Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition and Ballentine's Law Dictionary as are available for each term in each dictionary.
  • Ballentine's Law Dictionary

    A common-law action for the recovery of goods wrongfully detained. See 165 N. Y. 444, 80 Am. St. Rep. 736, 53 L. R. A. 565, 59 N. E. 265.

  • Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition

    In practice. A form of action which lies for the recovery, in specie, of personal chattels from one who acquired possession of them lawfully, but retains it without right, together with damages for the detention. 3 Bl. Comm. 152. Sinnott v. Fei-ock, 165 N. Y. 444, 59 N. E. 265, 53 L. R. A. 565, 80 Am. St. Rep. 736; Penny v. Davie, 3 B. Mon. (Ky.) 314; Guille v. Fook, 13 Or. 577, 11 Pac. 277. The action of detinue is defined in the old books as a remedy founded upon the delivery of goods by the owner to another to keep, who afterwards refuses to redeliver them to the bailor ; and it is said that, to authorize the maintenance of the action, it is necessary that the defendant should have come lawfully into the possession of the chattel, either by delivery to him or by finding it. In fact, it was once understood to be the law that detinue does not lie where the property had been tortiously taken. But it is, upon principle, very unimportant in what manner the defendant's possession commenced, since the gist of the action is the wrongful detainer, and not the original taking. It is only incumbent upon the plaintiff to prove property in himself, and possession in the defendant. At present, the action of detinue is proper in every case where the owner prefers recovering the specific property to damages for its conversion, and no regard is had to the manner in which the defendant acquired the possession. Peirce v. Hill, 9 Pori. (Ala.) 151, 33 Am. Dec. 306.