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villein

[vil-uh n, -eyn, vi-leyn] /ˈvɪl ən, -eɪn, vɪˈleɪn/
noun
1.
a member of a class of partially free persons under the feudal system, who were serfs with respect to their lord but had the rights and privileges of freemen with respect to others.
Also, villain.
Origin of villein
1275-1325
1275-1325; Middle English; see villain
Can be confused
villain, villein.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for villein
Historical Examples
  • This court also made the decision of whether a certain person was a villein or freeman.

  • The Anguissola were his family, and their honour was his honour, since as a villein he had no honour of his own.

    The Strolling Saint Raphael Sabatini
  • The villein and his oxen were all housed under one roof at first.

    Our English Towns and Villages H. R. Wilton Hall
  • Can the overlord rede the heart of the villein that feedeth him?

    Long Will Florence Converse
  • While the pure "theow" or absolute slave disappeared therefore the ceorl or villein sank lower in the social scale.

  • I 'll be sworn thou 'rt no villein, said the priest, very grim.

    Long Will Florence Converse
  • There were three awake, the beggar, a villein, and the youngest soldier.

    Long Will Florence Converse
  • The villein 73 and his oxen were all housed under one roof at first.

  • In five months I were a free man, he said, but to-day I am this man's villein.

    Long Will Florence Converse
  • What the villein in gross was, may be learned from the following, of Bracton, Lib.

    A Defence of Virginia Robert L. Dabney
British Dictionary definitions for villein

villein

/ˈvɪlən/
noun
1.
(in medieval Europe) a peasant personally bound to his lord, to whom he paid dues and services, sometimes commuted to rents, in return for his land
Word Origin
C14: from Old French vilein serf; see villain
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 villein
n.

early 14c., spelling variant of villain, referring to a feudal class of half-free peasants.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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10
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