Skip to main content

Symbolic Delivery


The constructive conveyance of the subject matter of a gift or sale, when it is either inaccessible or cumbersome, through the offering of some substitute article that indicates the donative intent of the donor or seller and is accepted as the representative of the original item.

For example, when one individual wishes to make a gift of a car to another individual, he or she might do so by handing over the keys and all documents indicating ownership thereof. In the law of real property, the transfer of a twig or clod of dirt from the grantor of land to the grantee was livery of seisin that constituted symbolic delivery of the right of legal possession or ownership of land pursuant to a freehold estate. Today the transfer of a deed from the seller to a buyer demonstrates the change in ownership of property.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Symbolic Delivery." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . 21 Apr. 2019 <>.

"Symbolic Delivery." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . (April 21, 2019).

"Symbolic Delivery." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Retrieved April 21, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.