Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
July 22nd, 2016
Episode 593 of 923 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for July 22, 2016 is: usufruct \YOO-zuh-frukt\ noun 1 : the legal right of using and enjoying the fruits or profits of something belonging to another 2 : the right to use or enjoy something Examples: He has willed all of his property to the conservation society, though his children will retain the house as a 50-year usufruct. "When there's no will, the state of Louisiana gives the surviving spouse a usufructon the property." — Mary Anna Evans, Plunder, 2012 Did you know? Thomas Jefferson said, "The earth belongs in usufruct to the living." He apparently understood that when you hold something in usufruct, you gain something of significant value, but only temporarily. The gains granted by usufruct can be clearly seen in the Latin phrase from which the word developed, usus et fructus, which means "use and enjoyment." Latin speakers condensed that phrase to ususfructus, the term English speakers used as the model for our modern word. Usufruct has been used as a noun for the legal right to use something since the mid-1600s. Any right granted by usufruct ends at a specific point, usually the death of the individual who holds it.