Pipeline Observer

The Word Property Refers to More than Tangible Objects Such as Farmland or the Contents of Our Houses and Bank Accounts

Published in December, 2016

For most people, upon hearing the word property they more readily think of houses, farmland, and real estate than they do real property or intellectual property. Real property would include cars, trucks, furniture, and bank accounts. Intellectual property would be an authored book, software program, or maybe a patent on how to make something, or facilitate some kind of useful process.

 

While the term property definitely applies to farmland, real estate, and other things a person might own, the word itself refers to an idea as much as it does to objects, or things tangible.

 

The word property is derived from a Greek phrase that means “one’s own,” or “special to that one person.” It was a term that didn’t just describe the item or thing a person owned. The concept carries with it an understanding of the rightful claim a person has to that thing, or things, that are his. It refers to the claim, as much as it does to the object.

 

To say it another way: The notion of property, and the word property, also affirms the unalterable and inalienable right an individual has to that which is his or hers. English philosopher Gilbert Chesterton, the very insightful and humorous journalist and writer, pointed out that even thieves instinctively respect the rightful claim of property owners.

 

"Thieves respect property,” Chesterton quipped. “They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it."