A Word About Title Language

The title industry has its own language. Many of its words and idioms are derived from the language of the law while others are common words given special meaning related to land titles. There are also words and phrases coined over the years by the title industry itself.



An individual or corporation authorized to act for another person or corporation. The scope of an agency depends upon the authority given to the agent.


On who, having received authority from another, acts in such other person’s behalf within the scope of such authority.


A legally binding compact made between two or more persons.


The absolute ownership of real estate which is subject to inheritance by the owner’s heirs or to disposition by the owner as he sees fit, as contrasted with the feudal system of ownership. Allodial tenure is characteristic of ownerships in the United States.


The increasing of land, especially along river banks, caused by the natural deposit and build up of sediment. Such sediment is called alluvium.


This term has developed through French and Old English from the Latin words “mors” or “mort” meaning death or dead. It is the killing off of an existing debt by regular partial payments. The word “mortgage” is also derived from the same Latin root.


Derived from the Latin word “annus” meaning year. The annual or yearly payment of income. Such payments are made to individuals under certain types of insurance policies and sometimes under the provisions of wills and trust estates.


The act, also the published results, of appraising.


From Latin “appretiare” meaning to set or fix a value. To judge or estimate the value of real estate.


A practicing lawyer whose examinations of title and title opinions are acceptable to a title insurance company as a basis for the issuance of its title insurance policies.


A minor right or privilege that is incident to, but outside of, the principal property such as a right of way to a highway across the land of another. Water rights are also an example.


Belonging to, or accessory to, or incident to a principal property.


the process by which parties who cannot agree among themselves submit the dispute to the judgment of an impartial party.


An abbreviation of “arbitraries.” A title industry word, used primarily in abstract plants and title plants, which refers to simplified forms of land descriptions arbitrarily used in indexing such plants in lieu of the more involved and complex descriptions contained in deeds, mortgages and other real estate instruments. Arbitrary descriptions are often found in areas where land ownerships are highly irregular and are of all manner of shapes and sizes and are described by metes and bounds. Such tracts are usually laid out on an area map and each tract is given an arbitrary name or number. All instruments affecting a given tract are indexed under the arbitrary name or number.