A title of nobility normally goes into abeyance under English law when the holder has no son but has two or more daughters.

When a man has several sons, his eldest son becomes his heir upon his death. If the man is a baron, his eldest son becomes the next baron. If a man has sons and daughters, the sons come first regardless of age, and the eldest son is still his heir.

Normally under English law, peerages do not descend to females at all. (It is more common under Scottish law.) But some do, and if a man has no sons, only a daughter, she becomes his heir at his death, and she becomes the baroness.

When he has no sons, and two or more daughters, they are all his joint heirs. They are called coheirs or heirs portioner or co-parceners. No one of them becomes the next baroness. The barony is suspended -- it is in abeyance -- between them.

This state continues until all but one of the daughters dies. She, as the sole heir, now becomes the baroness. The further complication is that the other daughters might themselves have heirs. If the barony is in abeyance between two daughters Anne and Betty, and Anne has a son John, then dies, the inheritance is still in abeyance between the two lines. It is John and Betty who are now coheirs. If John has three sons, five daughters, a gazelle, and a hammerhead shark, then dies, his half of the line of inheritance continues to be represented. Only when all branches but one are extinct, and the split heirship resolves itself into a single surviving heir, does the abeyance cease, and someone once more becomes the baron(ess).

In practice the situation often does not become this convoluted, because the Sovereign may terminate (or determine) the abeyance in favour of the eldest daughter (or her heir if she is already dead).

When the abeyance is allowed to continue so long that it is no longer possible to tell who all the coheirs are, the title is said to be dormant. It is much harder to determine or revive a dormancy.