1660s, "real estate, real property," from earlier meaning "a real possession" (1540s), earlier still "reality" (mid-15c.), from Old French realite, realte, from Medieval Latin realitatem (nominative realitas), from Late Latin realis "actual" (see real (adj.)). The notion behind the word is the immobility, or the fixed, permanent nature of certain kinds of property, especially landed. Also compare reality.
updated on May 11, 2021