1840–50; < Old English: thane Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
thane or thegn (θeɪn)
1.  (in Anglo-Saxon England) a member of an aristocratic class, ranking below an ealdorman, whose status was hereditary and who held land from the king or from another nobleman in return for certain services
2.  in medieval Scotland
 a.  a person of rank, often the chief of a clan, holding land from the king
 b.  a lesser noble who was a Crown official holding authority over an area of land
[Old English thegn; related to Old Saxon, Old High German thegan thane]
thegn or thegn
[Old English thegn; related to Old Saxon, Old High German thegan thane]
thanage or thegn

thegn (θeɪn)
a variant spelling of thane

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"military tenant of an Anglo-Saxon king," a modern revival first attested 1848; see thane.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


in English history before the Norman Conquest (1066), a free retainer or lord, corresponding in its various grades to the post-Conquest baron and knight. The word is extant only once in the laws before the time of King Aethelstan (d. 939).

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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