Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin beneficium, from Latin, favor, promotion, from beneficus
First Known Use: 14th century
System of land tenure first used by the Franks during the 8th century. A Frankish lord leased an estate to a freeman in beneficium (Latin: for the benefit (of the tenant)), normally until the death of the lord or tenant, though tenants often succeeded in turning benefices into hereditary holdings. By the 12th century benefice was dying out as a term for land tenure; instead it referred to a church office that carried with it the right of receiving income. A lord or bishop chose a priest, who was granted the benefice in return for the performance of spiritual duties.