One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The essoin or excuse of being beyond the sea.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in John Cowell (1554–1611), civil lawyer. From Law French oulter-le-mer, also ouster-le-mer, ouster le mere from Anglo-Norman oulter, oustre, variants of outre beyond + le, masculine definite article + mer.
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