Definition of escheat in English:

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Pronunciation: /ɪsˈtʃiːt/
Pronunciation: /ɛsˈtʃiːt/
chiefly historical


[mass noun]
1The reversion of property to the state, or (in feudal law) to a lord, on the owner’s dying without legal heirs: the Crown’s right of escheat was lost [count noun]: they totally abolished escheats
More example sentences
  • The chief lord may not demand from the tenant any relief, ward, marriage or other service, but only payment of the rent, nor may he have any other profit from the property except escheat when the law allows it.
  • Taking just one example, intestacy laws (which provide for inheritance in the absence of a will) were designed to prevent escheat of property to the state and to give effect to what would most likely have been a deceased's wishes.
1.1 [count noun] An item of property affected by escheat.
Example sentences
  • It seems that the stock of royal lands was dwindling faster than it was being replenished by forfeitures and reversions to the Crown (escheats).


[no object]
1(Of land) revert to a lord or the state by escheat: a private chase which had escheated to the King
More example sentences
  • Later Edward III interpolated a royal claim for it, on the basis that the Templar lands had escheated to the crown.
  • The Superior Court of Los Angeles County concluded that the property purchased by Fujii had escheated to the State.
  • However, he died a few months later, and the wardship of his three-year-old son, Roger, and his estate, escheated to the king.
1.1 [with object] (usually as adjective escheated) Hand over (land) as an escheat: a number of escheated royal honours
More example sentences
  • States usually publish a list of names of individuals whose property has been escheated.
  • This is in sharp contrast with France, for example, where during these same centuries the French kings were keeping a tight hold on escheated lands.
  • The charter also granted one bailiff the powers of king's escheator, with any fines or revenues from escheated goods going towards the farm.


Middle English: from Old French eschete, based on Latin excidere 'fall away', from ex- 'out of, from' + cadere 'to fall'.

  • cheat from Late Middle English:

    This started out as a shortening of escheat, a legal term for the reverting of property to the state when the owner dies without heirs. As an extension of this, the word came to mean ‘to confiscate’, and then ‘to deprive someone of something unfairly’. Finally, the senses ‘to practise deception’ and ‘to try to get an advantage by breaking the rules’ came to the fore.

Words that rhyme with escheat

accrete, autocomplete, beet, bittersweet, bleat, cheat, cleat, clubfeet, compete, compleat, complete, conceit, Crete, deceit, delete, deplete, discreet, discrete, eat, effete, élite, entreat, estreat, excrete, feat, feet, fleet, gîte, greet, heat, leat, leet, Magritte, maltreat, marguerite, meat, meet, meet-and-greet, mesquite, mete, mistreat, neat, outcompete, peat, Pete, petite, pleat, receipt, replete, sangeet, seat, secrete, sheet, skeet, sleet, splay-feet, street, suite, sweet, teat, treat, tweet, wheat

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: es|cheat

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