What is Deodand?

Legal Definition
Deodand is a thing forfeited or given to God, specifically, in law, an object or instrument which becomes forfeit because it has caused a person's death.

The English common law of deodands traces back to the 11th century and was applied, on and off, until Parliament finally abolished it in 1846. Under this law, a chattel (i.e. some personal property, such as a horse or a hay stack) was considered a deodand whenever a coroner's jury decided that it had caused the death of a human being. In theory, deodands were forfeit to the crown, which was supposed to sell the chattel and then apply the profits to some pious use. (The term deodand derives from the Latin phrase "deo dandum" which means "to be given to God.") In reality, the juries who decided that a particular animal or object was a deodand also appraised its value and the owners were expected to pay a fine equal to the value of the deodand. If the owner could not pay the deodand, his township was held responsible.
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
English law. This word is derived from Deo dandum, to be given to God; and is used to designate the instrument, whether it be an animal or inanimate thing, which has caused the death of a man. 3 Inst. 57; Hawk. bk. 1, c. 8.

2. The deodand is forfeited to the king, and was formerly applied to pious uses. But the presentment of a deodand by a grand jury, under their general charge from the judge of assize, is void. 1 Burr. Rep. 17.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
(Li. Lat Deo dandum, a thing to be given to God.) In English law. Any personal chattel which was the immediate occasion of the death of any reasen-able creature, and which was forfeited to the crown to be applied to pious uses, and distributed in alms by the high almoner. 1 Hale, P. C. 419; Fleta, lib. 1, c. 25; 1 Bl. Comm. 300 ; 2 Steph. Comm. 365.
-- Black's Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
Any instrument causing death, forfeited to the crown.
-- Ballentine's Law Dictionary