Just finished rereading Barbara Tuchman’s “A Distant Mirror” and found an ancient but stupefyingly cool-sounding and yet eerily useful word:
Usufruct. Basically, the right to use someone else’s stuff to a greater or lesser degree without actually destroying it. In the 13th century it was used to refer to various land-use rights of nobles, serfs, blah blah blah, Black Plague, stabbing, whatever.
But where I live in southern California there are perfectly enormous fruit trees growing in neighborhood yards, dripping with luscious lemons, limes, avocadoes, satsumas, etc… The general implied rule has always been “yeah, take a couple, don’t go crazy though.”… A sort of informal usufruct rule, I guess. So this ancient fussy medieval legal term has actual everyday application.
But wait, it gets juicier. Someone with the right of usufruct is called… a usufructuary.
All I can say is… delicious.