res nullius

noun res nul·li·us \ˌrāsnəˈlēəs, rāˈsnu̇lē-; ˌrēznəˈlīəs, rēzˈnəlēəs\

Definition of res nullius

  1. 1 :  a thing belonging to no one whether because never appropriated (as a wild animal) or because abandoned by its owner but acquirable by appropriation

  2. 2 :  property not subject to private ownership under Roman law

Love words? You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Join MWU now and get access to America’s largest dictionary, with:

  • 300,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

Origin and Etymology of res nullius

Late Latin, literally, thing of no one

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up res nullius? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to criticize severely

Get Word of the Day daily email!