: the legal right of using and enjoying the fruits or profits of something belonging to another
: the right to use or enjoy something

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Usufruct and Thomas Jefferson

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.

Examples of usufruct in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The earth belongs to the living in usufruct, and America belongs to the living in usufruct. Fox News, 1 July 2022 The Morgan County Board of Tax Assessors ruled last year the land lease agreement constituted a usufruct. Zachary Hansen, ajc, 16 Feb. 2023 The family wealth was entailed as long ago as the 17th century, and the reigning Prince as the head of the family has the sole usufruct. Lgt Bank Contributor, Forbes, 1 June 2022 The 4-1 vote means the Morgan County Board of Assessors ruled the rental agreement, known as a usufruct, does not make Rivian’s interest in the property taxable. J. Scott Trubey, ajc, 25 May 2022 Neither of the Parties in any form can hinder, by arbitrary and discriminatory means, the administration, operation, maintenance, use, usufruct, acquisition, expansion or divestiture of investments made by nationals or companies of the other Party. Washington Post, 9 Apr. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'usufruct.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin ususfructus, from usus et fructus use and enjoyment

First Known Use

circa 1630, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of usufruct was circa 1630


Dictionary Entries Near usufruct

Cite this Entry

“Usufruct.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Legal Definition


: the right to the use and enjoyment of another's property and its profits
a usufruct in the crops of the estate
especially, in the civil law of Louisiana : a personal servitude of limited duration that confers the right of use and full enjoyment of another's property and its fruits

Note: Under the civil law of Louisiana, one having a usufruct in land must deliver it to the owner with its basic substance undiminished at the end of the term; one having a usufruct in consumables acquires ownership of them, but must return their value or things of the same quantity or quality at the end of the usufruct.


Latin ususfructus from usus et fructus, literally, use and enjoyment

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