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pat·ent (pătnt)
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n.
1.
a. A grant made by a government that confers upon the creator of an invention the sole right to make, use, and sell that invention for a set period of time.
b. Letters patent.
c. An invention protected by such a grant.
2.
a. A grant of publicly owned land, particularly to a homesteader.
b. The official document of such a grant.
c. The land so granted.
3. An exclusive right or title.
adj.
1.
a. Protected or conferred by a patent or letters patent: a patent right.
b. Of, relating to, or dealing in patents: patent law.
2. (also pātnt) Obvious; plain: a patent injustice. See Synonyms at apparent.
3. (pātnt) Biology
a. Not blocked; open: a patent duct.
b. Spreading open; expanded: patent sepals.
4. Relating to or being a nonprescription drug or other medical preparation that is protected by a trademark.
5. Of high quality. Used of flour.
tr.v. pat·ent·ed, pat·ent·ing, pat·ents
1. To obtain a patent on or for (an invention, for example).
2. To invent, originate, or be the proprietor of (an idea, for example).
3. To grant a patent to or for.

[Middle English, document granting a right, short for (lettre) patent, open (letter), from Old French (lettre) patente, from Latin patēns, patent-, open, present participle of patēre, to be open; see petə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

patent·a·bili·ty n.
patent·a·ble adj.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

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