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

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Origin and Etymology of res nullius

Late Latin, literally, thing of no one


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