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Appurtenances are things that belong to and go with something else, the appurtenance being less significant than what it belongs to. The word ultimately derives from Latin appertinere, "to appertain".
In a legal context, an appurtenance could for instance refer to a back-yard that goes with the adjoining house. 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."
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.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Appurtenances". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Koffka (1935) p. 246 qtd in Gilchrist, Alan (2006), Seeing Black and White, Oxford University Press, p. 63.