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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.
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.