Here is another question from me while making efforts to translate a wordy document. Please read the paragraph as follows:

Mr. Justice Holmes stated in dissent: "If [the manufacturer] should make the retail dealers also agents in law as well as in name and retain the title until the goods left their hands I cannot conceive that even the present enthusiasm for regulating the prices to be charged by other people would deny that the owner was acting within his rights."

(source:https://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/c/US/433/433.US.36.76-15.html). I'm a foreigner and mainly study Law in my language, Vietnamese, so I'm not very familiar with all sorts of wording in an english legal document. I'm not very sure about which meaning of the word is used in this context, there can be some expressions or meanings that I can't find out or I have overlooked. So, I would like to be confirmed the meaning of "title" used here. Does it mean "the legal right to own something" ?

Thank you.

  • If you're going to translate legal documents, a legal dictionary (in English) is a sine qua non. Commented May 5, 2014 at 14:52

2 Answers 2


Yes, in property law, title refers to "a comprehensive term referring to the legal basis of the ownership of property, encompassing real and Personal Property and intangible and tangible interests therein; also a document serving as evidence of ownership of property, such as the certificate of title to a motor vehicle."

The People's Law Dictionary has the following definition:

n. 1) ownership of real property or personal property, which stands against the right of anyone else to claim the property. In real property, title is evidenced by a deed, judgment of distribution from an estate or other appropriate document recorded in the public records of the county. Title to personal property is generally shown by possession, particularly when no proof or strong evidence exists showing that the property belongs to another or that it has been stolen or known to be lost by another. In the case of automobiles and other vehicles, title is registered with the state's Department of Motor Vehicles, which issues a title document ("pink slip") to the owner. 2) the name for one's position in a business or organization, such as president, general manager, mayor, governor, duke. 3) the name for a legal case, such as Eugene Chan v. Runabout Taxi Company, Inc., which is part of the "caption" of the case.


Most of the time in legal documents discussing the transfer of a title you would see the word deed.

noun: a legal document signed and sealed and delivered to effect a transfer of property and to show the legal right to possess it

So instead of focusing on the retention of the property your document needs to do better at expressing the deed qualities. When and how does the title transfer, not when is it retained. It is always retained defacto (in most cases).

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