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[yoh-muh n] /ˈyoʊ mən/
noun, plural yeomen.
a petty officer in a navy, having chiefly clerical duties in the U.S. Navy.
British. a farmer who cultivates his own land.
History/Historical. one of a class of lesser freeholders, below the gentry, who cultivated their own land, early admitted in England to political rights.
  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.
of, pertaining to, composed of, or characteristic of yeomen:
the yeoman class.
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 of yeoman
1300-50; Middle English yeman, yoman, probably reduced forms of yengman, yongman, yungman, with similar sense; see young, man1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for yeoman
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "I hope there will be no collision between Rita and Mrs. yeoman," laughed Dick.

    Fast as the Wind Nat Gould
  • He was born in 1769, the son of a yeoman farmer at Churchill, in Oxfordshire.

    Self-Help Samuel Smiles
  • The "yeoman's" estate is not only honourable but useful, as Starcad generously and truly acknowledges.

    The Danish History, Books I-IX Saxo Grammaticus ("Saxo the Learned")
  • My father was a yeoman—an independent, or, as he was sometimes styled, a gentleman-farmer.

    The Desert Home Mayne Reid
  • Thou canst borrow twenty marks from Dame Adlyn, the yeoman's wife.

  • The yeoman of the signals; a first-class petty officer in the navy.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
British Dictionary definitions for yeoman


noun (pl) -men
  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
(in Britain) another name for yeoman of the guard
(modifier) characteristic of or relating to a yeoman
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
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for yeoman

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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