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[Anglo-French, from Old French mortemain, from morte (feminine of mort dead, from Latin mortuus) + main hand, from Latin manus]
1 : the possession of real property in perpetuity by a corporate body (as a church)
: the condition of property in such possession
2 : the controlling influence of the past not used technically
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.