According to Black's Law Dictionary, eminent domain is defined as:
"The power to take private property for public use by the state, municipalities, and private persons or corporations authorized to exercise functions of public character.
In the United States, the power of eminent domain is founded in both the federal (The Fifth Amendment) and state constitutions. However, the Constitution limits the power to taking for a public purpose and prohibits the exercise of the power of eminent domain without just compensation to the owners of the property which is taken. The process of exercising the power of eminent domain is commonly referred to as 'condemnation,' or 'expropriation.'
The right of eminent domain is the right of the state, through its regular organization, to reassert, either temporarily or permanently, its dominion over any portion of the soil of the state on account of public exigency and for the public good. Thus, in time of war or insurrection, the proper authorities may possess and hold any part of the territory of the state for the common safety; and in the time of peace the legislature may authorize the appropriation of the same to public purposes, such as the opening of roads, construction of defenses, or providing channels for trade or travel. Eminent domain is the highest and most exact idea of property remaining in the government, or in the aggregate body of the people in their sovereign capacity. It gives a right to resume the possession of the property in the manner directed by the constitution and the laws of the state, whenever the public interest require it."