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[pur-loo, purl-yoo] /ˈpɜr lu, ˈpɜrl yu/
purlieus, environs or neighborhood.
a place where one may range at large; confines or bounds.
a person's haunt or resort.
an outlying district or region, as of a town or city.
a piece of land on the edge of a forest, originally land that, after having been included in a royal forest, was restored to private ownership, though still subject, in some respects, to the operation of the forest laws.
Origin of purlieu
1475-85; alteration (simulating French lieu place) of earlier parlewe, parley, paraley purlieu of a forest < Anglo-French purale(e) a going through, equivalent to pur (< Latin prō for, pro1, confused with per through) + aller (see alley1) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for purlieus
Historical Examples
  • A reviewer residing in the purlieus of High Holborn is not competent to do it.

    The Highlands of Ethiopia William Cornwallis Harris
  • I do not speak of card-playing about the purlieus of Piccadilly.

    The Quadroon Mayne Reid
  • He told me he was going to raise a battery in the purlieus of Richmond.

    The Master of Warlock George Cary Eggleston
  • It was Dare, whom he had supposed to be a thousand miles off, hanging about the purlieus of Markton.

    A Laodicean Thomas Hardy
  • To be seen in the purlieus of the latter was a signal for vulgar anathemas and social ostracism.

  • The purlieus of the camp were at this period anything but safe.

  • A third brought him an oak sapling to keep in his hand about the purlieus of the establishment.

    Going To Maynooth William Carleton
  • But, on the whole, the purlieus of Kensington are depressing.

  • Field-lane is a low London thoroughfare, leading from the foot of Holborn-hill to the purlieus of Clerkenwell.

  • All the purlieus of bigelovia and artemisia are noisy with them for a month.

British Dictionary definitions for purlieus


(English history) land on the edge of a forest that was once included within the bounds of the royal forest but was later separated although still subject to some of the forest laws, esp regarding hunting
(usually pl) a neighbouring area; outskirts
(often pl) a place one frequents; haunt
(rare) a district or suburb, esp one that is poor or squalid
Word Origin
C15 purlewe, from Anglo-French puralé a going through (influenced also by Old French lieu place), from Old French puraler to traverse, from pur through + aler to go
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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