Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition and Ballentine's Law Dictionary as are available for each term in each dictionary.
  • Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition

    A valuable addition made to property (usually real estate) or an amelioration in its condition, amounting to more than mere repairs or replacement of waste, costing labor or capital, and intended to enhance its value and utility or to adapt it for new or further purposes. Spencer v. Tobey, 22 Barb. (N. Y.) 269; Allen v. McKay, 120 Cal. 332, 52 Pan. 828; Simpson v. Robinson, 37 Ark. 132. In American land law. An act by which a locator or settler expresses his intention to cultivate or clear certain land; an act expressive of the actual possession of land; as by erecting a cabin, planting a corn-field, deadening trees in a forest; or by merely marking trees, or even by plling up a brush-heap. Burrill. And see In re Leet Tp. Road, 159 Pa. 72, 28 Atl. 238; Bixler v. Baker, 4 Bin. (Pa.) 217. An "improvement," under our land system, does not mean a general enhancement of the value of the tract from the occupant's operations. It has a more limited meaning, which has in view the population of our forests, and the increase of agricultural products. Ali works which are directed to the creation of homes for families, or are substantial steps towards bringing lands into cultivation, have in their results the special character of "improvements," and, under the land laws of the United States and of the several states, are encouraged. Sometimes their minimum extent is defined as requisite to convey rights. In other cases not. But the test which runs through ali the cases is always this: Are they real, and made bona fide, in accordance with the policy of the law, or are they only colorable, and made for the purpose of fraud and speculation? Simpson v. Robinson, 37 Ark. 137. In the law of patents. An addition to, or modification of, a previous Invention or discovery, intended or claimed to Increase its utility or value. See 2 Kent, Comm. 366-372. And see Geiser Mfg. Co. v. Frick Co. (C. C.) 92 Fed. 191; Joliet Mfg. Co. v. Dice, 105 111. 650; Schwarzwaelder v. Detroit (C. C.) 77 Fed. 891; Reese's Appeal, 122 Pa. 392, 15 Atl. 807; Rheem v. Holliday, 16 Pa. 352; Allison Bros. Co. v. Allison, 144 N. Y. 21, 38 N. E. 956.
    —Local improvement. By common usage, especially as evidenced by the practice of courts and text-writers, the term "local improvements" is employed as signifying improvements made in a particular locality, by which the real property adjoining or near such locality is specially benefited, such as the improvement of highways, grading, paving, curbing, laying sewers, etc. Illinois Cent. R. Co. v. Decatur, 154 111. 173, 38 N. E. 626; Rogers v. St. Paul, 22 Minn. 507; Crane v. Siloam Springs, 07 Ark. 30, 55 S. W. 955 ; New York In Ins. Co. v. Prest (C. C.) 71 Fed. 816.