early 13c., "rank, standing, condition," from Anglo-French astat, Old French estat "state, position, condition, health, status, legal estate" (13c., Modern French état), from Latin status "state or condition, position, place; social position of the aristocracy," from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm."
For the unetymological e-, see e-. Sense of "property" is late 14c., from that of "worldly prosperity;" specific application to "landed property" (usually of large extent) is first recorded in American English 1620s. A native word for this was Middle English ethel (Old English æðel) "ancestral land or estate, patrimony." Meaning "collective assets of a dead person or debtor" is from 1830.
The three estates (in Sweden and Aragon, four) conceived as orders in the body politic date from late 14c. In France, they are the clergy, nobles, and townsmen; in England, originally the clergy, barons, and commons, later Lords Spiritual, Lords Temporal, and commons. For Fourth Estate see four.
updated on April 18, 2017