Definition of demesne in English:


Pronunciation /dɪˈmeɪn//dɪˈmiːn/


  • 1A piece of land attached to a manor and retained by the owner for their own use.

    ‘because labour was cheap, there were ample advantages in cultivating the demesne’
    • ‘There is little information in Domesday Book on peasant production but a good deal on demesne inputs and output.’
    • ‘In Piedmont and Naples the nobles were the principal beneficiaries from the alienations of tax revenues and demesne lands.’
    • ‘On the manor the peasants worked the lord's demesne in return for protection, housing, and the use of plots of land to cultivate their own crops.’
    • ‘Under serfdom, peasants were not paid for their produce on demesne.’
    • ‘The most common way of doing that was to increase compulsory labour services on the demesne land itself.’
    • ‘Bipartite estates were divided between a central demesne and an array of tenant plots.’
    • ‘The manor consisted of demesne land (private land of the lord) and tenants' holdings.’
    • ‘No matter how intense work was in small demesnes, the level of productivity failed to increase.’
    • ‘Where the lord of the manor had a demesne farm, the court appointed a reeve to supervise the farming activities, using labour services and collecting rents.’
    • ‘Yet manorial extents from the 1200s onwards often indicate considerable changes in the area of the lord of the manor's demesne and its management.’
    • ‘Most demesnes therefore were leased - ‘farmed’ was the technical term - in return for a money rent.’
    • ‘Domesday Book also lists the demesne resources or inputs.’
    • ‘In English Ireland they were associated with the reorganization of the land into manors with demesne land and dependent tenants, based to some extent on English models.’
    • ‘Marc Bloch observed long ago that labor services peasants owed lords and the size of demesnes dwindled between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries.’
    • ‘The demesne was cultivated directly under the supervision of the landlord or his agents, by the tenants, who owed labour-service as part of their rent.’
    • ‘The plantation administrator also hired day laborers at times to work the demesne, the fields directly exploited by the owners.’
    1. 1.1 The lands of an estate.
      ‘a levy of one tenth on property in the royal demesne’
      • ‘With a sunny south-facing aspect, the demesne, which includes mature deciduous trees and a lake, is shielded from the road by a high cut-stone wall.’
      • ‘The notice was put in place by the council to protect some broadleaf trees on the site, some of which were planted as part of the original hunting demesne in the 18th century.’
      • ‘The amiable and insolvent owner of the 300-acre estate died after being ambushed near his demesne.’
      • ‘This affluent and woody oasis of tranquillity contrasts starkly with the roughly hewn stakes of the Catholic churchyard on the outer edges of the demesne.’
      • ‘All kings drew resources from demesne estates and received regular food-rents, services, and payments in money or kind.’
      • ‘The society has had a considerable input into the various road plans and bypasses where they affect historic properties or important demesnes.’
      • ‘The famous Castletown obelisk, for example, is on land that forms part of the Carton demesne.’
      • ‘The boundary walls of the demesne garden and orchard have been preserved while a piered entrance with a gate has been erected to provide a security.’
      • ‘Next stop was Ballydoolin House, Carbury, which is a country demesne with a large Georgian country house and farmyard, built in 1821.’
      • ‘The grotto will be restored to its original form and repairs will be carried out on the walls surrounding the demesne.’
      grounds, ground, fields, open space, open area
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    2. 1.2archaic A region or domain.
      ‘she may one day queen it over that fair demesne’
      area of land, area, region, enclave
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  • 2Law
    mass noun Possession of real property in one's own right.

    • ‘Foreigners are deprived of the first one - the right of demesne, which points who is the owner of any property, and is the basic and most important property right.’
    colony, protectorate, province, dominion, outpost, satellite, satellite state
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  • held in demesne

    • historical (of an estate) occupied by the owner, not by tenants.

      • ‘Efficiency was influenced by whether an estate was held in demesne by the tenant-in-chief (estates being held in demesne tended to be more efficient) and who the tenant-in-chief was.’
      • ‘In terms of tenancy, nine estates were held in demesne (that is, were worked by the tenant-in-chief) and nine had a single sub-tenant.’


Middle English: from Old French demeine (later Anglo-Norman French demesne) ‘belonging to a lord’, from Latin dominicus, from dominus ‘lord, master’. Compare with domain.