It is a word that start with "e" and might be derived from Latin.

If you buy a piece of land, the notary will usually do a bit of research to trace back the ownership and sometimes it happens that they discover that the land used to be owned by some family who lent it to another family for some fixed amount of yearly rent. These contracts are usually very old and the rent, often insignificantly small. For example, on a piece of land that we thought we owned, we were actually supposed to pay another family the fixed amount of 75c per year.

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    Lease is actually a very old term: late 14c., "legal contract conveying property, usually for a fixed period of time and with a fixed compensation," from Anglo-French les (late 13c.), Old French lais, lez "a lease, a letting, a leaving," verbal noun from Old French laissier "to let, allow, permit; bequeath*. etymonline.com/index.php?term=lease
    – user66974
    Sep 10, 2017 at 10:45
  • In English law, that small sum is called a peppercorn rent.
    – Andrew Leach
    Sep 10, 2017 at 10:53

1 Answer 1


By pure coincidence I stumbled upon a dictionary of "unusual words" and yep, found it: "Emphyteusis".

There are various definitions, depending on which legal system it was implemented under.

"In the Roman and civil law. A contract by which a landed estate was leased to a tenant, either in perpetuity or for a long term of years, upon the reservation of an annual rent or canon, and upou the condition that the lessee should improve theproperty, by building, cultivating, or otherwise, and with a right in the lessee to alien the estate at pleasure or pass it to his heirs by descent, and free from any revocation.re-entry, or claim of forfeiture on the part of the grantor, except for non-payment of the rent."


"An emphyteutic lease is a type of real estate contract specifying that the lessee must improve the property with construction. The term is commonly used in Quebec. These sorts of leases are usually associated with government properties."


The key difference between an emphyteusis lease and a normal one, seems to be that there is a condition that stipulates that the leesee must put the land to good use, improve it somehow, either cultivate it or develop it.

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    Hello and welcome. Thanks for sharing this obscure word. Since you're happy with the term as an answer to your own question, click the green tick to show that this is the accepted answer. (It's explicitly permitted to answer your own questions on Stack Exchange, and you can accept your own answers after 48 hours.)
    – Lawrence
    Sep 10, 2017 at 11:19
  • That's the reason we say "empréstimo" in portuguese. Sep 10, 2017 at 16:02

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