An appurtenance is something subordinate to or belonging to another larger, principal entity, that is, an adjunct, satellite or accessory that generally accompanies something else.[1] The word derives from Latin appertinere, "to appertain".

In a legal context, an appurtenance refers to a right, privilege, or improvement belonging to or which accompanies a principal property.[1] It could for instance refer to an empty portion of land behind an adjoining house that is therefore regarded as that house's back yard. The idea being expressed is that the back yard "belongs" to the house, which is the more significant of the two. In 1919, the Supreme Court of Minnesota adopted the following definition of an appurtenance: "That which belongs to something else. Something annexed to another thing more worthy." – Cohen v Whitcomb, (1919 142 Minn 20).

In Gestalt theory, appurtenance (or "belongingness") is the relation between two things seen which exert influence on each other. For example, fields of color exert influence on each other. "A field part x is determined in its appearance by its 'appurtenance' to other field parts. The more x belongs to the field part y, the more will its whiteness be determined by the gradient xy, and the less it belongs to the part z, the less will its whiteness depend on the gradient xz."[2]

In lexicology, an appurtenance is a modifier that is appended or prepended to another word to coin a new word that expresses "belongingness". In the English language, appurtenances are most commonly found in toponyms and demonyms, for example, 'Israeli', 'Bengali' etc. have an -i suffix of appurtenance.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Appurtenance". Random House. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  2. ^ Koffka (1935) p. 246 qtd in Gilchrist, Alan (2006), Seeing Black and White, Oxford University Press, p. 63.