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yeoman

[yoh-muh n] /ˈyoʊ mən/
noun, plural yeomen.
1.
a petty officer in a navy, having chiefly clerical duties in the U.S. Navy.
2.
British. a farmer who cultivates his own land.
3.
History/Historical. one of a class of lesser freeholders, below the gentry, who cultivated their own land, early admitted in England to political rights.
4.
Archaic.
  1. a servant, attendant, or subordinate official in a royal or other great household.
  2. a subordinate or assistant, as of a sheriff or other official or in a craft or trade.
adjective
5.
of, pertaining to, composed of, or characteristic of yeomen:
the yeoman class.
6.
performed or rendered in a loyal, valiant, useful, or workmanlike manner, especially in situations that involve a great deal of effort or labor:
He did a yeoman job on the problem.
Origin
1300-1350
1300-50; Middle English yeman, yoman, probably reduced forms of yengman, yongman, yungman, with similar sense; see young, man1
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for yeoman
  • Raincoats and umbrellas were put into yeoman service.
  • They're so opposed accountability, you'd think they were merchants, industrialists or yeoman farmers.
  • But despite the yeoman efforts, he has failed to convince investors that he is turning the company around.
  • Other yeoman start-ups are charting a more traditional path to profits.
  • Seeing them efficiently stamping out parts on a yeoman scale is more surprising.
  • His body was indefatigable, doing him yeoman service in this breathless chase of pleasures.
  • He wanted to create a haven for yeoman farmers and those in debt.
  • The yeoman farmers and skilled artisans of the colonial period are examples.
  • He championed the cause of the yeoman farmer and the interests of the western territories.
  • A yeoman during the middle ages was commonly used in feudal or private warfare.
British Dictionary definitions for yeoman

yeoman

/ˈjəʊmən/
noun (pl) -men
1.
(history)
  1. a member of a class of small freeholders of common birth who cultivated their own land
  2. an assistant or other subordinate to an official, such as a sheriff, or to a craftsman or trader
  3. an attendant or lesser official in a royal or noble household
2.
(in Britain) another name for yeoman of the guard
3.
(modifier) characteristic of or relating to a yeoman
4.
a petty officer or noncommissioned officer in the Royal Navy or Marines in charge of signals
Word Origin
C15: perhaps from yongman young man
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for yeoman
n.

c.1300, "attendant in a noble household," of unknown origin, perhaps a contraction of Old English iunge man "young man," or from an unrecorded Old English *geaman, equivalent of Old Frisian gaman "villager," from Old English -gea "district, village," cognate with Old Frisian ga, ge, from Proto-Germanic *gaujan.

Sense of "commoner who cultivates his land" is recorded from early 15c.; also the third order of fighting men (late 14c., below knights and squires, above knaves), hence yeomen's service "good, efficient service" (c.1600). Meaning "naval petty officer in charge of supplies" is first attested 1660s. Yeowoman first recorded 1852: "Then I am yeo-woman O the clumsy word!" [Tennyson, "The Foresters"]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for yeoman

in English history, a class intermediate between the gentry and the labourers; a yeoman was usually a landholder but could also be a retainer, guard, attendant, or subordinate official. The word appears in Middle English as yemen, or yoman, and is perhaps a contraction of yeng man or yong man, meaning young man, or attendant. Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (late 14th century) depicts a yeoman who is a forester and a retainer. Most yeomen of the later Middle Ages were probably occupied in cultivating the land; Raphael Holinshed, in his Chronicles (1577), described them as having free land worth 6 (originally 40 shillings) annually and as not being entitled to bear arms

Learn more about yeoman with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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