What does mortgage mean in latin?

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In Latin, the term “mortgage” can be translated to “hypotheca.” This Latin word refers to a legal agreement where a borrower pledges their property as collateral for a loan. The lender, known as the mortgagee, has the right to take possession of the property if the borrower, known as the mortgagor, fails to repay the loan. Understanding the origins and meaning of the term “mortgage” in Latin provides insight into the historical development of this financial concept.

Etymology of “Mortgage”

The word “mortgage” has its roots in the Old French language. It is derived from the term “mort gage,” which can be translated to “dead pledge.” The term “mort” refers to “dead,” while “gage” means “pledge” or “security.” This Old French phrase was eventually adopted into Middle English as “mortgage,” and it has been used in the English language ever since.

Historical Context

The concept of using property as collateral for a loan dates back to ancient civilizations. In ancient Rome, for example, the practice of hypotheca was prevalent. Hypotheca allowed individuals to secure loans by pledging their property as security. If the borrower defaulted on the loan, the lender had the right to seize the property.

The Roman legal system heavily influenced the development of mortgage practices in Europe. During the Middle Ages, feudalism was prevalent, and land was often held by lords who granted their vassals the right to use the land in exchange for services. In this context, mortgages were used to transfer land ownership temporarily. The borrower would pledge their land as security for a loan, and once the loan was repaid, the land would be returned to the borrower.

Evolution of Mortgages

Over time, mortgage practices evolved, and the concept of a mortgage became more standardized. In the 17th century, the modern mortgage system began to take shape in England. The Statute of Uses in 1536 and the Statute of Frauds in 1677 provided legal frameworks for mortgages, establishing the rights and obligations of both borrowers and lenders.

As the concept of mortgages spread to other countries, variations in mortgage practices emerged. Different legal systems and cultural contexts influenced the specific terms and conditions of mortgages in each jurisdiction. However, the fundamental principle of using property as collateral for a loan remained consistent.


In Latin, the term “mortgage” can be translated to “hypotheca.” This Latin word represents the historical origins of the concept of using property as collateral for a loan. The evolution of mortgages can be traced back to ancient civilizations, such as ancient Rome, and has since developed into the modern mortgage system we know today. Understanding the etymology and historical context of mortgages provides valuable insights into the financial practices that underpin property ownership and lending.


– Oxford English Dictionary: https://www.oed.com
– Investopedia: https://www.investopedia.com
– Legal Information Institute: https://www.law.cornell.edu