Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Law Possession and use of one's own land.
  • n. Manorial land retained for the private use of a feudal lord.
  • n. The grounds belonging to a mansion or country house.
  • n. An extensive piece of landed property; an estate.
  • n. A district; a territory.
  • n. A realm; a domain.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A lord’s chief manor place, with that part of the lands belonging thereto which has not been granted out in tenancy; a house, and the land adjoining, kept for the proprietor’s own use.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A lord's chief manor place, with that part of the lands belonging thereto which has not been granted out in tenancy; a house, and the land adjoining, kept for the proprietor's own use.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Power; dominion; possession. See demain.
  • n. A manor-house and the land adjacent or near, which a lord of the manor keeps in his own occupation, for the use of his family, as distinguished from his tenemental lands, distributed among his tenants, originally called bookland or charter-land, and folk-land or estates held in villeinage, from which sprang copyhold estates.
  • n. Any estate in land.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. territory over which rule or control is exercised
  • n. extensive landed property (especially in the country) retained by the owner for his own use

Etymologies

Anglo-French, respelling (probably influenced by French mesne, variant of Anglo-Norman meen, middle, in legal phrase mesne lord, lord who holds a manor of a superior lord) of Middle English demeine, from Anglo-Norman, from Old French demaine; see domain.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Anglo-Norman demeyne, demene et al., Old French demeine, demaine, demeigne, domaine ("power") (whence French domaine ("domain")), a noun use of an adjective, from Latin dominicus ("belonging to a lord or master"), from dominus ("master, proprietor, owner"). See dame, and compare demain, domain. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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Comments

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  • From p. 39 of Patrick Leigh Fermor's "A Time to Keep Silence":

    I spent much of my limitless leisure walking in the country round the Abbey. The forested hills of the demesne are cut up into long zig-zag rides, tunnels of beech that converge upon moss-covered urns supported by a single Doric pillar.

    January 21, 2014

  • It's a great word, and a lovely poem. Thanks qroqqa and bilby! I believe there is a book by the Russian poet Marina Tsvetayeva that was translated into English as The Demesne of the Swans or maybe of the Swan. Can't remember.

    Btw, I think Keats got his exploration history wrong. Doesn't "Darien" refer to Panama? If so, the explorer would have been Balboa, not Cortez.

    September 17, 2008


  • Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
    And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
    Round many western islands have I been
    Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
    Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
    That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne,
    Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
    Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold.
    —Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
    When a new planet swims into his ken;
    Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes
    He stared at the Pacific—and all his men
    Look'd at each other with a wild surmise—
    Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

    - J. Keats, 'On First Looking into Chapman's "Homer"'.

    September 17, 2008

  • And in South Carolina, the Register of Deeds is known as Register Mesne Conveyance. A nice archaic throwback one might expect from one of the 13 original colonies !! **lifting a glass of gin and tonic while enjoying boiled shrimp on the piazza overlooking Charleston Harbor, where, as every good South Carolinian knows, the Atlantic Ocean begins, being formed by the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers.**

    August 26, 2008

  • The best-known use is in Keats, and rhymes with 'serene'.

    August 26, 2008

  • I've never figured out how to pronounce this, so I checked the guide and it says di-meen, and that it is essentially the same word as domain.

    August 26, 2008

  • In feudalism, land retained by the lord.

    August 25, 2008