villein

villein

[vil-uhn, -eyn, vi-leyn]
noun
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:
1275–1325; Middle English; see villain

villain, villein.
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World English Dictionary
villein or villain (ˈvɪlən)
 
n
(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
 
[C14: from Old French vilein serf; see villain]
 
villain or villain
 
n
 
[C14: from Old French vilein serf; see villain]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

villein
early 14c., spelling variant of villain, refering to a feudal class of half-free peasants.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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