Benefice Ben"e*fice, n. [F. b['e]n['e]fice, L. beneficium, a kindness, in LL. a grant of an estate, fr. L. beneficus beneficent; bene well + facere to do. See {Benefit}.] [1913 Webster] 1. A favor or benefit. [Obs.] --Baxter. [1913 Webster]

2. (Feudal Law) An estate in lands; a fief. [1913 Webster]

Note: Such an estate was granted at first for life only, and held on the mere good pleasure of the donor; but afterward, becoming hereditary, it received the appellation of fief, and the term benefice became appropriated to church livings. [1913 Webster]

3. An ecclesiastical living and church preferment, as in the Church of England; a church endowed with a revenue for the maintenance of divine service. See {Advowson}. [1913 Webster]

Note: All church preferments are called benefices, except bishoprics, which are called dignities. But, ordinarily, the term dignity is applied to bishoprics, deaneries, archdeaconries, and prebendaryships; benefice to parsonages, vicarages, and donatives. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.