It sounds rather scary doesn’t it?! However, many of us are more familiar with this term than
you may think.
As you probably know, in 1066 William the Conqueror (a French Duke) was crowned King of
England. Since then many French words have been used in the English language.
Hundreds of years ago the two French words mort and gage were fused together to make
the single word mortgage. The French word mort means dead and the French word gage
means pledge. Hence the term mortgage literally means dead pledge.
But why? We know that today a mortgage is often used to buy a place that you can live in,
not die in!
Originally (in late medieval times), there were two types of gages; the mortgage
(deadpledge) and the vifgage (livingpledge).
The livingpledge was an agreement where the income from a property would go to the
lender to pay off money that you had borrowed from them.
The deadpledge was different. People that had borrowed money got to keep the profits from
their property however they had to pay back the money they had borrowed in some other
way. If they could not pay back the debt in full then the property would be taken by the lender
to cover the cost of the debt. The debt would then become dead.
In modern times mortgages are slightly different. However, the concept of having a loan that
you take out to buy a property and is secured against the value of the property remains.
So there you have it! When you go to get a mortgage you now know the origins of the word
and a little bit about the history that made it so.