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Hidden; concealed; that which does not appear upon the face of an item.

For example, a latent defect in the title to a parcel of real property is one that is not discoverable by an inspection of the title made with ordinary care. Similarly, a latent defect in an item of merchandise is one that could not have been discovered by any known or customary inspection or test.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

LATENT, construction. That which is concealed; or which does not appear; for example, if a testator bequeaths to his cousin Peter his white horse; and at the time of making his will and at his death he had two cousins named Peter, and he owned two white horses, the ambiguity in this case would be latent, both as respects the legatee, and the thing bequeathed. Vide Bac. Max. Reg. 23, and article Ambiguity. A latent ambiguity can only be made to appear by parol evidence, and may be explained by the same kind of proof. 5 Co. 69.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Spanish National Police confirmed that latent fingerprint #17 was collected from a plastic bag.
An official FBI Laboratory report was issued identifying latent fingerprint #17 with the number four candidate.
Spanish National Police fingerprint examiners arrived at an inconclusive finding that the latent fingerprint discovered on a plastic bag belonged to the number four candidate.
He left the meeting thinking that the Spanish would continue their comparison of latent fingerprint #17 to the number four candidate.
The FBI received a court order for latent fingerprint #17 from the bag obtained in the Spanish investigation.
The Court's independent examiner reported in telephonic testimony that latent fingerprint #17 was that of the number four candidate.