from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. Law Perpetual ownership of real estate by institutions such as churches that cannot transfer or sell it.
- n. The often oppressive influence of the past on the present.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. The perpetual, inalienable possession of lands by a corporation or non-personal entity such as a church.
- n. A strong and inalienable possession.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. Possession of lands or tenements in, or conveyance to, dead hands, or hands that cannot alienate.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In law, possession of lands or tenements in dead hands, or hands that cannot alienate, as those of ecclesiastical corporations; unalienable possession.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. real property held inalienably (as by an ecclesiastical corporation)
- n. the oppressive influence of past events or decisions
Middle English mortemayne, from Old French mortemain : morte, feminine of mort, dead; see mortgage + main, hand (from Latin manus; see man-2 in Indo-European roots).(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Anglo-Norman mortmayn, morte meyn, from Old French mortes meins, after Late Latin phrase mortua manus. See Latin mors ("dead") + manus ("hand"). (Wiktionary)