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What Does "Et Ux" Mean?

Renee Booker
Renee Booker

The term "et ux" signifies a time in property ownership history when women's rights were starkly limited. This Latin term, short for "et uxor," meaning "and wife," was commonly used in deeds and tax records when referring to a husband's property, implicitly including his spouse without granting her the recognition of a proper name. 

It wasn't until the Married Women's Property Acts in the 19th century that women began to gain legal autonomy over property and finances. Understanding what does et ux mean provides insight into the historical context of women's property rights and the evolution of legal terminology in reflecting societal changes.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

Although not all countries throughout the world recognize a woman's right to own property, the United States certainly does. The modern day equivalent of et ux is property held as tenants by the entirety or joint tenants. A tenancy by the entirety is the closest match to the use of et ux, as it requires the two people who will hold title to the property to be married. Of course, a tenancy by the entirety is simply a legal status. The actual deed will have the proper names of both the husband and wife.

A joint tenancy is similar to a tenancy by the entirety, although the two people who will hold title to the property are not required to be married. This may be considered the final evolution from the Latin et ux, as a woman may hold title to a property along with a man without even being married to him. Both a tenancy by the entirety and a joint tenancy allow for rights of survivorship, meaning that, upon the death of one owner, the other owner will automatically inherit the decedent's share of the property.

Of course, a woman may also hold title to a property alone, without a man included on the title. Within the United States, women have absolute equal rights to own, sell, gift, or devise property. Many states are also community property states, meaning that a woman is entitled to half of the marital property when the couple divorces regardless of who earned the money to buy the property or how the property was acquired.

Many words used for legal descriptions or phrases come from Latin, as many of the concepts and ideas for modern day legal systems date back to ancient Rome. Other examples of common words still used in legal terminology include mens rea — guilty mind, corpus delecti — body of crime, and pro bono — for the public good. Although the Latin terms and phrases are still used today in many legal systems, much has changed in the law since they were first used.

FAQ on 'et ux'

What does 'et ux' mean in legal documents?

'Et ux' is a Latin term used in legal documents to denote 'and wife.' It is an abbreviation of 'et uxor,' which literally translates to 'and wife' in English. This term is typically used in property deeds and other legal instruments to refer to a married man and his wife jointly. For example, if John Doe owns property with his wife Jane, the deed might read "John Doe et ux," indicating that Jane has a legal interest in the property as well.

Is 'et ux' still commonly used in modern legal documents?

While 'et ux' has historical significance, its usage has declined in modern legal documents in favor of more gender-neutral and clear language. Many jurisdictions now prefer terms like 'and spouse' or simply listing both names, such as "John Doe and Jane Doe," to avoid ambiguity and ensure inclusivity. However, 'et ux' may still appear in older documents or in certain legal contexts where traditional language is maintained.

Can 'et ux' be used to refer to same-sex spouses?

Traditionally, 'et ux' referred specifically to a husband and his wife, reflecting the historical context in which it was used. However, with the legal recognition of same-sex marriage, the term's applicability has evolved. In practice, legal documents now use more inclusive language to refer to married couples, regardless of gender. Phrases like 'and spouse' or simply naming both individuals are preferred to ensure clarity and respect for all marriages.

What are the implications of using 'et ux' in a property deed?

When 'et ux' is used in a property deed, it signifies that the property is owned jointly by a married couple. This has important legal implications, as both spouses have rights to the property. In the event of one spouse's death, the surviving spouse often has rights of survivorship, meaning they would inherit the other's interest in the property. Additionally, both spouses typically must agree to any sale or encumbrance of the property.

How has the use of 'et ux' changed over time?

The use of 'et ux' has diminished over time as legal language has modernized to become more inclusive and precise. Historically, 'et ux' was a convenient shorthand in a legal culture that often did not recognize wives as independent legal entities. Today, legal documents are more likely to explicitly name both spouses to ensure equal recognition and to avoid any confusion about property ownership or legal rights. This shift reflects broader societal changes towards gender equality and the recognition of individual rights within a marriage.

Discussion Comments


When a parent dies, leaving a home to the daughter as beneficiary and the home was transferred to another beneficiary's name and the general warranty deeds home to her brother from the same mother and he dies, does the home still need probating to his heir, as part of that same family trust the mother left ?

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