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Alternative forms[edit]


Apples being harvested in an orchard in Osterbruch, Lower Saxony, Germany. If a person does not own an orchard but has the legal right to harvest and sell the fruit from it, he or she possesses a usufruct.

From Late Latin ūsufrūctus, from ūsus + frūctus (usage of the fruits of production). Cognate with French usufruit, Italian usufrutto, usofrutto, Occitan usufrug, Portuguese usufruto, Spanish usufructo.



usufruct (plural usufructs)

  1. (law) The legal right to use and derive profit or benefit from property that belongs to another person, as long as the property is not damaged.
    • 1729, [Samuel von Pufendorf], “Of Right over Other Mens Goods or Possessions”, in Basil Kennett, transl., Of the Law of Nature and Nations. Eight Books. Written in Latin by the Baron Pufendorf, Counsellor of State to His Late Swedish Majesty, and to the Late King of Prussia. [...], 4th corr. edition, London: Printed for J. Walthoe, R. Wilkin, J. and J. Bonwicke, S. Birt, T. Ward, and T[homas] Osborne, →OCLC, page 407, § VII, footnote 1:
      We ought to obſerve, that Uſufruct or Uſe for the Profits, and other ſort of Servitudes are the Rights which we enjoy gratuitouſly: For if we pay an Annual Rent, 'twill be then a kind of Letting or Hiring.
    • 1870, [Burhan al-Din al-Marghinani], Standish Grove Grady, “Of the Mihr, or Dower”, in Charles Hamilton, transl., The Hedaya, or Guide: A Commentary on the Mussulman Laws, 2nd edition, volume I, London: W[illia]m H. Allen & Co., 13 Waterloo Place, S.W., →OCLC, book II (Of Nikkah, or Marriage), page 47, column 2:
      [T]eaching the Koran is not property; neither does usufruct constitute property (according to the sentiments of our doctors), because that is not substantial or permanent, whereas property is a thing of a permanent nature, and what constitutes actual wealth; []
    • 1888 November, Mark Twain [pseudonym; Samuel Langhorne Clemens], “Dinner to Hamilton W[right] Mabie”, in Mark Twain’s Speeches, New York, N.Y., London: Harper & Brothers Publishers, published 1910, →OCLC:
      In that old former time this one was Chang, that one was Eng. The sympathy existing between the two was most extraordinary; it was so fine, so strong, so subtle, that what the one ate the other digested; when one slept, the other snored; if one sold a thing, the other scooped the usufruct.
    • 1931 September, H[enry] L[ouis] Mencken, “The Boon of Culture”, in The American Mercury, Torrance, Calif.: American Mercury, ISSN 0002-998X, →OCLC, page 36; reprinted in H. L. Mencken, editor, A Mencken Chrestomathy: Edited and Annotated by the Author, New York, N.Y.: Vintage Books, May 1982, →ISBN, part XVII (Pedagogy), page 313:
      Every American college president, it appears, is in duty bound to write and utter at least one book upon the nature, aims and usufructs of the Higher Education.
    • 2014, John G. Sprankling, “An International Definition of ‘Property’”, in The International Law of Property, Oxford, New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN:
      International law recognizes a use right that is akin to the civil law usufruct or the common law life estate, lease, or profit. Like other property rights, such a usufruct may be characterized as an entitlement of a person that is related to an immovable or movable thing. It differs from ownership in certain respects. First, although the holder is entitled to the exclusive possession and use of the thing, and to all fruits it produces, he or she may not cause damage to the thing itself. Second, the duration of a usufruct may be limited in time, unlike ownership which is usually viewed as perpetual. Finally, the rights of the usufruct holder are effective against both the owner and the world in general.


Derived terms[edit]



usufruct (third-person singular simple present usufructs, present participle usufructing, simple past and past participle usufructed)

  1. (law, also figuratively) To use and derive profit or benefit from property that belongs to another person.
    • 1992, William M. Dugger, “Three Modes of Income Distribution”, in Underground Economics: A Decade of Institutionalist Dissent (Institutional Economics Series), Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe, →ISBN, page 315:
      An enabling myth is just that—a myth that enables those who benefit from the status quo to keep on benefiting. Thorstein Veblen would say that it enabled the usufructuaries to keep on usufructing.
    • 1994, Abdullah Alwi Haji Hassan, “Loans, Deposit and al-Ḥajr”, in Sales and Contracts in Early Islamic Commercial Law, Islamabad: Islamic Research Institute, International Islamic University, (Islamic Research Institute, Islamabad; no. 92), →ISBN, →OCLC; republished Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia: The Other Press, 2007, →ISBN, page 199:
      The use of the property of an orphan by a guardian who carries out his guardianship, is allowed for the latter's daily subsistence. Such use should be just and reasonable. [] According to al-Sha'bá, such just and reasonable use is like usufructing the milk of cattle, having services from servants and riding animals or vehicles, as long as such usufruction does not impair or damage the property itself.
    • 2011, William Edmundson, The Nitrate King: A Biography of “Colonel” John Thomas North (Studies of the Americas), New York, N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan, →ISBN:
      The El Ferrocarril newspaper on May 26, 1889 worried that foreign capital had transformed the nitrate region into "a kind of English India, usufructed [i.e. deriving profit from land which is not theirs] by a multitude of limited companies organized outside Chile, without any national interest, whose directors can easily come to understandings on monopolies of production and consumption, leaving the nation with a sovereignty more nominal than real" (author's translation).
    • 2012, Frederic Voss, “The Origins of Usufruct”, in The Newshawk Reports: The Writings of a Politically Incorrect Newsbird, [Bloomington, Ind.]: Xlibris, →ISBN, page 257:
      So they got together for a big meeting someplace and started an organization that would protect bullies from people who would not allow them to usufruct with impunity.
    • 2016, Octavio Humberto Moreno Velador, “The National-Popular Alternative and the Processes of Democratization from Below in the Andean Nations”, in Emelio Betances, Carlos Figueroa Ibarra, editors, Popular Sovereignty and Constituent Power in Latin America: Democracy from Below, New York, N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan, →DOI, →ISBN, page 54:
      [Lucio] Gutiérrez was sold to public opinion as an ally of the popular sectors, with the promise of putting an end to the oligarchic elites who had usufructed and seized the Ecuadorian state. The truth is that, once in power, Gutiérrez broke the pact with the indigenous sector; three years later, in April 2005, he was deposed from government.


Further reading[edit]