from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A marriage existing by mutual agreement between a man and a woman, or by the fact of their cohabitation, without a civil or religious ceremony.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A marriage based on the duration of cohabitation rather than formal ceremony.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. See marriage.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. a marriage relationship created by agreement and cohabitation rather than by ceremony
Sorry, no etymologies found.
It seemed he had been married twice before, in a manner of speaking: he had been "handfast" to Janet Beaton, and had lived in common-law marriage with the Norwegian woman.