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A lien is a security interest or legal right acquired in one's property by a creditor, or lienholder. A lien usually prevents sale of the property until the underlying obligation to the creditor is satisfied. If the underlying obligation is not satisfied, the creditor may be able to take possession of the property involved.

The major categories of liens are as follows: agricultural liencommon law lienstatutory liencontractual lienmaritime lienlegal lien, and equitable lien.

Within these categories, many liens have specific names that usually stem from the type of creditor involved. See, e.g., artisan's liencarrier's lienfloating lienmechanic's lienstorage lien, and tax lien.

[Last updated in July of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]