Meaning of Earnest

A Greek word passed to Latin as arrhăbo or arrhae, and then to our language as earnest. According to the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE), the term is used in the plural and refers, according to its first meaning, to the pledge that is granted as a guarantee in a contract.

The earnest money, in this framework, is a monetary advance that is delivered as a signal to reserve a real or personal property. It is a private contract established by two parties and which functions as a pre-contract: the obligation to enter into another contract in the future (the one that determines the sale of the property in question) is contracted.

There are different kinds of earnest money. The Confirmatory arras are those that are delivered as part payment, being a percentage of total pay. In the event of a breach by one of the parties, the other has the right to demand that it resolve the problem as soon as possible or that it compensate it for the damages caused.

The criminal arras, on the other hand, are those that the buyer must return lost or duplicate if not fulfilling its obligations and no particular operation. The earnest money, finally, represent the amount to be returned doubled the seller or the buyer loses if the transaction for some reason, is not carried out.

The thirteen coins that were traditionally exchanged by the bride and groom during the marriage ceremony are known as matrimonial earnest money. It is a symbolism about the fact of sharing the goods in the new society that is established. After this kind of transaction, the marriage contract is perfected.

The verb to perfect, in this case, refers to the fulfillment of certain requirements that make possible the enforcement and the acquisition of legal force of a contract, a law or a legal act, according to the bases of the Law. This phenomenon is known by the name of improvement. When the elements of improvement are not fulfilled, then the nullity of the act takes place, so it is as if it had not been celebrated.

Although the matrimonial earnest money goes back to the Roman-Germanic era, the origin of the configuration they currently have is related to a Mozarabic ritual. The division into thirteen parts (which, in this case, are coins) represents each of the months of the year plus an extra for the most disadvantaged, as a gesture of generosity to share with them the fruits that the couple collects from their joint work. It is important to emphasize that this is not an alternative to the dowry or to other symbols that also use money or goods.

During the Middle Ages, the marriage arrears had another meaning, since then they did correspond to the endowment for the bride, which used to include properties and gifts of great importance on a material level. These earnest money served so that the ecclesiastics could distinguish between concubinage and marriage.

Depending on the time and geographic location, the endowment limit was different; the normal thing is that it was between 10% and 50% of the inheritance of the groom or his assets. In addition to this value, it was possible to add gifts, which were also regulated by other limits (these were extended if the bride offered her own gifts to the groom).

Once the couple had children, the woman could no longer dispose of the total down payments, since they corresponded to three quarters. If there was a widow, then she could rent them to support themselves until they return to contract marriage.


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