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

    An estate of inheritance, which, instead of descending to heirs generally, goes to the heirs of the donee's body, which means his lawful issue, his chlidren, and through them to his grandchildren in a direct line, se long as his posterity endures in a regular order and course of descent, and upon the death of the first owner without issue, the estate determines. 1 Washb. Real Prop. 72. An estate tail is a freehold of inheritance, limited to a person and the heirs of his body, general or special, male or female, and is the creature of the statute de Donis. The estate, provided the entali be not barred, reverts to the donor or reversioner, if the donee die without leaving descendants answering to the condition annexed to the estate upon its creation, unless there be a limitation over to a third person on default of such descondants, when it vests in such third person or remainder-man. Wharton,
    —Several tail. An entail severally to two; as if land is given to two men and their wives, and to the heirs of their bodies begotten ; here the donees have a j'oint estate for their two lives, and yet they have a several inheritance, because the issue of the one shall bave his moiety, and the issue of the other the other moiety. Cowell.
    —Tail after possibility of issue extiuct. A species of estate tail which arises where one is tenant in special tail, and a person from whose body the issue was to spring dies without issue, or, having left issue, that issue becomes extinct. In either of these cases the surviving tenant ip specini tail becomes "tenant in tail after possibility of issue extinct." 2 Bl. Comm. 124.
    —Tail female. When lands are given to a person and the female heirs of his or her body, this is called an "estate tail female," and the male heirs are not capable of inheriting it.
    —-Tail general. An estate in tail granted to one "and the heirs of his body begotten," which is called "tnil general" because, how often soever such donee in tnil be married, his issue in general by all and every such marriage is, in successive order, capable of inheriting the estate tail per formam doni. 2 Bl. Comm. 113. This is where an estate is limited to a man and the heirs of his body, without any restriction at ali; or, according to some authorities, with no other restriction than that in relation to sex. Thus, tnil nude general ls the same thing as tail male; the word "general," in such case, implying that there is no other restriction upon the descent of the estate than that it must go in the male line. So an estate in' tail female general is an estate in tail female. The word "general," in the phrase, expresses a purely negative idea, and may denote the absence of any restriction, or the absence of some given restriction which is tacitly understood. Mozley & Whitley.
    —Tail male. When lands are given to a person and the male hairs of his or her body, this is called an "estate tail male," and the female heirs are not capable of inheriting it.
    —Tail special. An estate in tnil where the succession is restricted to certain heirs of the donee's bsdy, and does not go to all of them in general; e. g., where lands and tenements are given to a man and "the heirs of his body on Mary, his now wife, to be begotten;" here no issue can inherit but such special issue as is engendered between those two, not such as the husband may have by another wife, and therefore it is called "special tail." 2 BL Comm. 113. It is defined by Cowell as the limitation of lands and tenements to a man and his wife and the heirs of their two bodies. But the phrase need not be thus restricted. Tail special, in its largest sense, is where the gift is restrained to certain heirs of the donor's body, and does not go to all of them in general. Mozley & Whitley.