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Where The Word Mortgage Comes From

Have you ever wondered where the word “mortgage” comes from? Let’s explore the fascinating history behind this term and how it has evolved to become a fundamental part of the real estate and financial landscape.

The Origin of “Mortgage”

The word “mortgage” has its roots in Old French. It can be traced back to two Old French words: “mort,” meaning “dead,” and “gage,” meaning “pledge.” When combined, “mortgage” essentially means “dead pledge.”

The Medieval Context

In medieval Europe, land ownership was a privilege of the wealthy. Most people were tenants, and it was challenging to become a landowner. The concept of a “mortgage” was born out of this social and economic structure.

The Pledge to Repay

In a medieval mortgage, a borrower would pledge their land (or property) as security for a loan. The term “dead pledge” referred to the idea that the pledge would end (or “die”) when the loan was repaid. If the borrower failed to repay the loan, the lender would take possession of the land, and the pledge would be “dead” to the borrower.

Evolution into Modern Mortgages

Over the centuries, the concept of a mortgage evolved. Today, a mortgage is a legal agreement between a borrower and a lender in which the borrower receives funds to purchase a property, and the property itself serves as collateral for the loan. While the term “mortgage” still retains its historical roots, the modern interpretation is far less dire, as borrowers have the opportunity to repay their loans and maintain ownership of their property.

Mortgages in Alberta

In Alberta, like the rest of Canada, mortgages play a vital role in homeownership. They make it possible for individuals and families to purchase homes, build equity, and invest in their futures. The real estate market in Alberta is dynamic, with varying interest rates and terms to accommodate the diverse needs of its residents.


Understanding the origin of the word “mortgage” offers a glimpse into the historical context of property ownership and borrowing. In Alberta, where real estate is a significant part of our lives, mortgages have become a familiar and essential financial tool. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or considering refinancing your property, knowing the roots of the word “mortgage” reminds us of the enduring importance of property ownership and the role that mortgages play in achieving that dream.

Duane Springsteel     
Duane Springsteel