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

  • n. An investment plan in which participants buy shares in a common fund and receive an annuity that increases every time a participant dies, with the entire fund going to the final survivor or to those who survive after a specified time.
  • n. Each member's share of a tontine.
  • n. The subscribers to a tontine.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A form of investment in which, on the death of an investor, his share is divided amongst the other investors.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An annuity, with the benefit of survivorship, or a loan raised on life annuities with the benefit of survivorship. Thus, an annuity is shared among a number, on the principle that the share of each, at his death, is enjoyed by the survivors, until at last the whole goes to the last survivor, or to the last two or three, according to the terms on which the money is advanced. Used also adjectively.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An annuity shared by subscribers to a loan, with the benefit of survivorship, the share of each survivor being increased as the subscribers die, until at last the whole goes to the last survivor, the whole transaction ceasing with his death.
  • Of, pertaining to. constituting, or involving the principle of the tontine; as, tontine profits; tontine funds; tontine insurance.

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

  • n. an annuity scheme wherein participants share certain benefits and on the death of any participant his benefits are redistributed among the remaining participants; can run for a fixed period of time or until the death of all but one participant
  • n. a form of life insurance whereby on the death or default of a participant his share is distributed to the remaining members


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

French, after Lorenzo Tonti (1635-1690?), Italian-born French banker.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From French, after Lorenzo de Tonti, inventor of the tontine.


  • *A tontine is a financial arrangement whereby a fixed group takes shares in an investment—in this case the coffeehouse—paying out pro rata as each dies or drops out; the last one standing gets the whole shebang.

    City of Glory

  • The tontine is a scheme for raising money on a long-term basis by weighting rewards in favour of the longest lasting contributors.

    Propeller Most Popular Stories

  • They work, I am told, with a kind of tontine -- it is, in fact, a lottery.

    As We Are and As We May Be

  • With her death, Betty White has now won the Golden Girls tontine.

    Tallulah Morehead: Dead Folks 2010: Everyone's Pushing Up Roses

  • The tontine developed an aura of shadiness, and was eventually abandoned.

    McKeever on Tontines

  • Popular Culture Update: Kent McKeever writes that he mentions "The Wrong Box" in footnote 4 of his paper, "along with the epoch-making exploration of the tontine in a mid-Nineties episode of the Simpsons."

    McKeever on Tontines

  • Here is the abstract:The tontine, with its underlying premise that the living participants benefit from the death of their fellows, does not deserve its shadowy reputation.

    McKeever on Tontines

  • To explain the illustration: I'm a great fan of Michael Caine and will seize upon any excuse to post an image of him, in this case, a poster relating to the only film I know of with a plot revolving around a tontine, "The Wrong Box" 1966.

    McKeever on Tontines

  • At length a tontine subscription was obtained to erect an inn, which, for the more grace, was called a hotel; and so the desertion of Meg Dods became general. 6

    Saint Ronan's Well

  • If there was a place for him in the tontine, could he become one of the money men?

    City of Glory


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • tONtinE

    May 2, 2008

  • Probably gave rise to the term "green-back stabber."

    May 2, 2008

  • "…a macabre form of investment, popular in Europe and America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in which the amount you got back depended on how many of your fellow-investors you outlived."

    Michael Kinsley in The New Yorker

    May 2, 2008

  • Pronounced: "TAHN-TEEN."

    "A system of annuities in which the benefits pass to the surviving subscribers until only one is left."

    I saw this first referenced on an old M*A*S*H episode when Col. Potter received a well-traveled bottle of brandy as the last surviving member of his World War One platoon. I believe Major Winchester used the phrase to add some pompous color to the scene to which Col. Potter nodded his rapidly aging head and remarked, "Give that man a charoot."

    JC Sears (on

    September 30, 2007

  • Or to many of us, the plot entered into by Mr. Burns and Grandpa during WWII.

    December 4, 2006

  • Popularly, in mystery plots, a sort of group-will scheme by which the last surviving member inherits all.

    December 4, 2006