Definition of lien in English:



  • A right to keep possession of property belonging to another person until a debt owed by that person is discharged.

    • ‘It applies to all liens, including equitable liens where there may be proprietary interests.’
    • ‘The lien may be claimed and maintained so long as the article remains in the possession of the lien claimant.’
    • ‘The plaintiff was legally entitled to register a lien for the proper amount.’
    • ‘The solicitors have claimed a lien on their file until their fees, which are substantial, are paid.’
    • ‘Mrs. D. will transfer her interest in the matrimonial home to Mr. D. provided that she can lift the Legal Aid liens on the property to a payment agreement form.’


Mid 16th century: from French, via Old French loien from Latin ligamen ‘bond’, from ligare ‘to bind’.