from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. An object forfeited by the state (and supposedly given to God) because it had caused the death of a person
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. A personal chattel which had caused the death of a person, and for that reason was given to God, that is, forfeited to the crown, to be applied to pious uses, and distributed in alms by the high almoner. Thus, if a cart ran over a man and killed him, it was forfeited as a deodand.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. Formerly, in Eng. law. from the earliest times, a personal chattel which had been the immediate occasion of the death of a rational creature, and for that reason given to God—that is, forfeited to the king to be applied to pious uses and distributed in alms by his high almoner.
Latin deodandum, from Deo dandum to be given to God. (Wiktionary)