churl

[churl]
noun
1.
a rude, boorish, or surly person.
2.
a peasant; rustic.
3.
a niggard; miser: He was a churl in his affections.
4.
English History. a freeman of the lowest rank.

Origin:
before 900; Middle English cherl, Old English ceorl man, freeman; cognate with Dutch kerel, German Kerl; akin to carl

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
churl (tʃɜːl)
 
n
1.  a surly ill-bred person
2.  archaic a farm labourer
3.  a variant spelling of ceorl
 
[Old English ceorl; related to Old Norse karl, Middle Low German kerle,Greek gerōn old man]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

churl
O.E. ceorl "peasant, freeman, man without rank," from P.Gmc. *kerlaz, *karlaz. It had various meaning in early M.E., including "man of the common people," "a country man," "husbandman," "free peasant;" by 1300, it meant "bondman, villain," also "fellow of low birth or rude manners." For acquisition
of an insulting flavor over time, compare boor, villain.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Easton
Bible Dictionary

Churl definition


in Isa. 32:5 (R.V. marg., "crafty"), means a deceiver. In 1 Sam. 25:3, the word churlish denotes a man that is coarse and ill-natured, or, as the word literally means, "hard." The same Greek word as used by the LXX. here is found in Matt. 25:24, and there is rendered "hard."

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

churl

the free peasant who formed the basis of society in Anglo-Saxon England. His free status was marked by his right to bear arms, his attendance at local courts, and his payment of dues directly to the king. His wergild, the sum that his family could accept in place of vengeance if he were killed, was valued at 200 shillings. Nineteenth-century scholars often represented the ceorl as the typical peasant labourer in a kind of Anglo-Saxon democracy. Actually, he was a member of a peasant elite that was gradually extinguished between the 7th and 12th centuries. A few ceorls prospered and attained the rank of thane (a free retainer, or lord, corresponding, after the Norman Conquest, to the position of baron or knight), but most were driven, first by economic pressure and later by the Norman Conquest, into the class of unfree villeins. The word ceorl came to denote a depressed and subject peasant and, by the 14th century, was used as a pejorative.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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