Serf Serf, n. [F., fr. L. serus servant, slave; akin to servare to protect, preserve, observe, and perhaps originally, a client, a man under one's protection. Cf. {Serve}, v. t.] A servant or slave employed in husbandry, and in some countries attached to the soil and transferred with it, as formerly in Russia. [1913 Webster]

In England, at least from the reign of Henry II, one only, and that the inferior species [of villeins], existed . . . But by the customs of France and Germany, persons in this abject state seem to have been called serfs, and distinguished from villeins, who were only bound to fixed payments and duties in respect of their lord, though, as it seems, without any legal redress if injured by him. --Hallam. [1913 Webster]

Syn: {Serf}, {Slave}.

Usage: A slave is the absolute property of his master, and may be sold in any way. A serf, according to the strict sense of the term, is one bound to work on a certain estate, and thus attached to the soil, and sold with it into the service of whoever purchases the land. [1913 Webster]

The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • serf — serf …   Dictionnaire des rimes

  • serf — serf, serve [ sɛr(f), sɛrv ] n. • XIe; lat. servus « esclave » ♦ Hist. Sous la féodalité, Personne qui n avait pas de liberté personnelle complète, était attachée à une terre, frappée de diverses incapacités et assujettie à certaines obligations… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • serf — serf, erve (sèrf, sèr v ; au pluriel, la plupart font entendre l f ; cependant quelques uns le prononcent sêr, comme cerfs ; c est ainsi qu au XVIe siècle Palsgrave, p. 25, indique la prononciation ; Masson, Helvét. I, l a fait rimer avec fers :… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • serf — (n.) late 15c., slave, from M.Fr. serf, from L. servum (nom. servus) slave (see SERVE (Cf. serve)). Fallen from use in original sense by 18c. Meaning lowest class of cultivators of the soil in continental European countries is from 1610s. Use by… …   Etymology dictionary

  • serf — SERF, Serve. adj. Qui n est pas libre, qui est entierement dependant d un maistre. Les hommes serfs. il est de condition serve. Serf, est aussi subst. Il n y a point de serfs en France …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • serf — Mot Monosíl·lab Nom masculí …   Diccionari Català-Català

  • serf — [sə:f US sə:rf] n [Date: 1400 1500; : French; Origin: Latin servus; SERVE1] someone in the past who lived and worked on land that they did not own and who had to obey the owner of the land →↑slave1 (1) →↑peasant …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • serf — [ sɜrf ] noun count in the past, someone who lived and worked on land belonging to another person and who could not leave without that person s permission …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • serf — [n] slave bondservant, bondsman/woman, chattel, laborer, peon, servant, vassal, villain, villein; concept 348 …   New thesaurus

  • serf — ► NOUN ▪ (in the feudal system) an agricultural labourer who was tied to working on a particular estate. DERIVATIVES serfdom noun. ORIGIN Latin servus slave …   English terms dictionary

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