One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Any of the members of a panel from which the judges of a civil court at Rome were appointed; (in plural) a civil court drawn from this panel, having particular jurisdiction over matters relating to property and inheritance.
Mid 16th century; earliest use found in Nicholas Udall (1504–1556), schoolmaster and playwright. From classical Latin centumvirī (plural) court instituted at Rome to settle various civil cases from centum hundred + virī, plural of vir man.
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