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A 'bailment' is a non-ownership transfer of possession. Under English Common Law, the right to possess a thing is separate and distinct from owning the thing. In some jurisdictions, an owner of an object can steal his own property, a curious result of the distinction. In context, an owner who lends someone else an article, then secretly takes it back, can be stealing.

When a bailment is created, the article is said to have been 'bailed'. One who delivers the article is the bailor. One who receives a 'bailed' article is the bailee.