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Tenure, in the legal sense, refers to the medieval arrangements of land use between lords and tenants where the tenants provided service in exchange for use of the land. Today, tenure can sometimes refer broadly to a person’s right to use something like property for a period of time. 

Tenure also has other meanings such as the amount of time which a person has filled a specific role such as judges who often have lifetime tenure. Another frequent meaning of the term refers to someone who serves in a position where they cannot be fired except for in extreme circumstances; for example, teachers often receive tenure after a certain amount of time working. 

[Last updated in October of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]