Select Page

Not on the planet Arrakis but…

The Legal Genealogist is scrambling to try to catch a bunch of different balls now in the air without letting too many of them hit the ground and bounce.

So you know what that means, right?

Yup. More 2019 legal alphabet soup. We’re up to the letter Q, but today’s word won’t just be a word. It’s a whole phrase. One I can’t resist.

2019 letter Q

It’s quamdiu se bene gesserit.

And anybody who — like me — is a fan of Frank Herbert’s Dune books will understand right away why I had to pick that one.1

Of course, it doesn’t have anything to do with science fiction when used in legal documents, but hey… it’s still fun.

So… what does it mean when we see it in legal documents?

We start of course with the fact that this is legal Latin, and that quamdiu means “as long as” or “so long as.”2 That’s why you’ll see that sometimes in deeds and leases, particularly those that have a condition like “I’m giving you this land as long as it’s used for church purposes.”

The longer phrase here means: “As long as he shall behave himself well; during good behavior.”3

Cool. When in the world would that be used?

The definition goes on to tell us: it’s “a clause frequent in letters patent or grants of certain offices, to secure them so long as the persons to whom they are granted shall not be guilty of abusing them…”4

You might see this, then, in the document naming the kind of judge who would hold the office for life — as long as he did the job properly. If he stopped doing it properly, he’d be subject to being impeached.5

There’s an opposite phrase as well for those positions where the person serving in the office could be removed at will whenever the person making the appointment wanted the person removed. It’s durante bene placito (during the pleasure of the grantor).6

An oddball term for sure, but one of those oddball legal terms we will occasionally run across and need to understand.

Even if it’s not on the planet of Arrakis…

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “2019 alphabet soup: Q is for…,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 19 Nov 2019).


  1. See Wikipedia (, “Bene Gesserit,” rev. 18 Nov 2019.
  2. Henry Campbell Black, A Dictionary of Law (St. Paul, Minn. : West, 1891), 974, “quamdiu.”
  3. Ibid., “quamdiu se bene gesserit.”
  4. Ibid.
  5. Nope. Not going there.
  6. Black, A Dictionary of Law, 401, “durante bene placito.” And nope, not going there either.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email