yeoman

[yoh-muhn]
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.
a.
a servant, attendant, or subordinate official in a royal or other great household.
b.
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:
1300–50; Middle English yeman, yoman, probably reduced forms of yengman, yongman, yungman, with similar sense; see young, man1

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World English Dictionary
yeoman (ˈjəʊmən)
 
n , pl -men
1.  history
 a.  a member of a class of small freeholders of common birth who cultivated their own land
 b.  an assistant or other subordinate to an official, such as a sheriff, or to a craftsman or trader
 c.  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
 
[C15: perhaps from yongman young man]

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

yeoman
c.1300, "attendant in a noble household," of unknown origin, perhaps a contraction of O.E. iunge man "young man," or from an unrecorded O.E. *geaman, equivalent of O.Fris. gaman "villager," from O.E. -gea "district, village," cognate with O.Fris. ga, ge, from P.Gmc. *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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