from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A grant made by a government that confers upon the creator of an invention the sole right to make, use, and sell that invention for a set period of time.
  • noun Letters patent.
  • noun An invention protected by such a grant.
  • noun A grant of publicly owned land, particularly to a homesteader.
  • noun The official document of such a grant.
  • noun The land so granted.
  • noun An exclusive right or title.
  • adjective Protected or conferred by a patent or letters patent.
  • adjective Of, relating to, or dealing in patents.
  • adjective Obvious; plain: synonym: apparent.
  • adjective Not blocked; open.
  • adjective Spreading open; expanded.
  • adjective Relating to or being a nonprescription drug or other medical preparation that is protected by a trademark.
  • adjective Of high quality. Used of flour.
  • transitive verb To obtain a patent on or for (an invention, for example).
  • transitive verb To invent, originate, or be the proprietor of (an idea, for example).
  • transitive verb To grant a patent to or for.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To grant by patent; make the subject of a patent; grant an exclusive right to by letters patent.
  • To obtain a patent upon; obtain an exclusive right in by securing letters patent.
  • noun A Middle English form of patent.
  • Lying open; open; expanded.
  • Specifically— In botany, spreading; open; either widely spreading or diverging widely from an axis.
  • In zoology, patulous; open, as by the size of an aperture, the shallowness of a cavity, etc.
  • Manifest to all; unconcealed; evident; obvious; conspicuous.
  • Open to the perusal of all: as, letters patent. See letter.
  • Appropriated by letters patent; secured by law or patent as an exclusive privilege; restrained from general use; patented.
  • Synonyms Plain, obvious, palpable, unmistakable, glaring, notorious.
  • noun An official document, sometimes called letters patent (which see, under letter), conferring or granting a privilege; also, the privilege so granted: as, a patent of nobility; a patent conferring the right to engage in a particular trade or pursuit, maintain a place of amusement, or the like, usually to the exclusion of others.
  • noun Specifically— A letter of indulgence; an indulgence; a pardon.
  • noun The grant by a government to the author of a new and useful invention, or to his assigns, of the exclusive right of exploiting that invention for a specified term of years; also, the instrument or letters by which a grant of land is made by a government to a person or corporation.
  • noun An invention; a thing invented: as, the machine is a new patent.
  • noun A region or tract of land granted by letters patent; a concession.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A letter patent, or letters patent; an official document, issued by a sovereign power, conferring a right or privilege on some person or party.
  • noun A writing securing to an invention.
  • noun A document making a grant and conveyance of public lands.
  • noun The right or privilege conferred by such a document; hence, figuratively, a right, privilege, or license of the nature of a patent.
  • adjective Open; expanded; evident; apparent; unconcealed; manifest; public; conspicuous.
  • adjective Open to public perusal; -- said of a document conferring some right or privilege. See Letters patent, under 3d Letter.
  • adjective Appropriated or protected by letters patent; secured by official authority to the exclusive possession, control, and disposal of some person or party; patented
  • adjective (Bot.) Spreading; forming a nearly right angle with the steam or branch.
  • adjective a varnished or lacquered leather, used for boots and shoes, and in carriage and harness work.
  • adjective a government bureau for the examination of inventions and the granting of patents.
  • adjective (Law) The right, granted by the sovereign, of exclusive control of some business of manufacture, or of the sale of certain articles, or of certain offices or prerogatives.
  • adjective the registers, or records, of patents.
  • transitive verb To grant by patent; to make the subject of a patent; to secure or protect by patent

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A declaration issued by a government agency declaring someone the inventor of a new invention and having the privilege of stopping others from making, using or selling the claimed invention; a letter patent.


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

[Middle English, document granting a right, short for (lettre) patent, open (letter), from Old French (lettre) patente, from Latin patēns, patent-, open, present participle of patēre, to be open; see petə- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Short form of Anglo-Norman lettre patente, "open letter", from Latin littera patens.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin patens ("open, lying open"), present participle of patere ("to lie open").


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  • Patent nonsense ("peytant"--British pronunciation); patent office.

    November 22, 2007

  • How do they differ, oro?

    November 10, 2008

  • See some goofy patents here.

    May 12, 2009