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[sak-suh n] /ˈsæk sən/
a member of a Germanic people in ancient times dwelling near the mouth of the Elbe, a portion of whom invaded and occupied parts of Britain in the 5th and 6th centuries.
the Old English dialects of the regions settled by the Saxons.
a native or inhabitant of Saxony in modern Germany.
an English person; Britisher.
an Anglo-Saxon.
(not in scholarly use) the Old English language.
a member of the royal house of Germany that ruled from 919 to 1024.
of or relating to the early Saxons or their language.
of or relating to Saxony in modern Germany.
English (defs 1, 2).
Origin of Saxon
1250-1300; Middle English, probably < Late Latin Saxō, Saxonēs (plural) < Germanic; replacing Old English Seaxan (plural)
Related forms
non-Saxon, noun, adjective
pre-Saxon, adjective, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for Saxon
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I must go and say just one word to the lovely little Saxon girl; by-the-bye, Grey, one word before I am off.

    Vivian Grey Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli
  • It seemed as if so much soul had never been put into a Saxon speech.

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • As early as the Saxon Heptarchy, there was a monastery on Lindisfarne.

    Grace Darling Eva Hope
  • The (hup)-seax has often been found in Saxon graves on the hip of the skeleton.

    Beowulf Unknown
  • Behind them the Saxon army will form on the other bank, and then Hardrada's army is doomed.

    Ned, the son of Webb William O. Stoddard
  • Sceattas, or Saxon silver coins, are also frequently discovered.

    English Villages P. H. Ditchfield
  • The Briton would not give the Saxon the salutation or the kiss of peace.

British Dictionary definitions for Saxon


a member of a West Germanic people who in Roman times spread from Schleswig across NW Germany to the Rhine. Saxons raided and settled parts of S Britain in the fifth and sixth centuries ad. In Germany they established a duchy and other dominions, which changed and shifted through the centuries, usually retaining the name Saxony
a native or inhabitant of Saxony
  1. the Low German dialect of Saxony
  2. any of the West Germanic dialects spoken by the ancient Saxons or their descendants
of, relating to, or characteristic of the ancient Saxons, the Anglo-Saxons, or their descendants
of, relating to, or characteristic of Saxony, its inhabitants, or their Low German dialect
Word Origin
C13 (replacing Old English Seaxe): via Old French from Late Latin Saxon-, Saxo, from Greek; of Germanic origin and perhaps related to the name of a knife used by the Saxons; compare saw1
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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Word Origin and History for Saxon

c.1200, from Late Latin Saxonem (nominative Saxo; also source of French Saxon, Spanish Sajon, Italian Sassone), usually found in plural Saxones, from a Germanic source (cf. Old English Seaxe, Old High German Sahsun, German Sachse "Saxon"), with a possible literal sense of "swordsmen" (cf. Old English seax, Old Frisian, Old Norse sax "knife, short sword, dagger," Old High German Saxnot, name of a war-god), from Proto-Germanic *sahsam "knife," from PIE *sek- "to cut" (see section (n.)).

The word figures in the well-known story, related by Geoffrey of Monmouth, who got it from Nennius, of the treacherous slaughter by the Anglo-Saxons of their British hosts:

Accordingly they all met at the time and place appointed, and began to treat of peace; and when a fit opportunity offered for executing his villany, Hengist cried out, "Nemet oure Saxas," and the same instant seized Vortigern, and held him by his cloak. The Saxons, upon the signal given, drew their daggers, and falling upon the princes, who little suspected any such design, assassinated them to the number of four hundred and sixty barons and consuls ....
The OED editors helpfully point out that the correct Old English (with an uninflected plural) would be nimað eowre seax. For other Germanic national names that may have derived from characteristic tribal weapons, cf. Frank, Lombard. As an adjective from 1560s. Still in 20c. used by Celtic speakers to mean "an Englishman" (cf. Welsh Sais, plural Seison "an Englishman;" Seisoneg "English").

In reference to the modern German state of Saxony (German Sachsen, French Saxe) it is attested from 1630s. Saxon is the source of the -sex in Essex, Sussex, etc. (cf. Middlesex, from Old English Middel-Seaxe "Middle Saxons"). Bede distinguished the Anglo-Saxons, who conquered much of southern Britain, from the Ealdesaxe "Old Saxons," who stayed in Germany.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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