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[chey-awrl] /ˈtʃeɪ ɔrl/
noun, Obsolete.
churl (def 4).
Origin of ceorl
before 1000; this form borrowed (17th century) < Old English
Related forms
ceorlish, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for ceorl
Historical Examples
  • The owner of two hydes of land was ranked above a ceorl, or simple farmer, while the owner of twelve hydes was a royal thane.

  • The Teutonic race had a myth which explained the origin of the classes eorl, ceorl and thrall (earl, churl and slave).

  • While the pure "theow" or absolute slave disappeared therefore the ceorl or villein sank lower in the social scale.

  • War, in short, which was an unwelcome accident to the ceorl, was the business of life to the Gesith.

  • Chorl is frequently used for a countryman, in old books, from the Saxon ceorl.

    Folk-lore of Shakespeare Thomas Firminger Thiselton-Dyer
  • An eorl could call upon the ceorl farmers for about forty days to fight off an invading group.

  • For the ceorl, who could not quit the land on which he was born, or free himself from slavery, life was particularly hard.

    Legal Lore Various
  • To say nothing of Welshmen, there was quite enough inter-tribal warfare to supply the ceorl with a captive.

    Domesday Book and Beyond Frederic William Maitland
  • How the difference arose we do not know, but we do know that the Eorl had privileges which the ceorl had not.

  • Every ceorl hath some hours to himself to employ to his profit, and can lay by for his own ends.

    Harold, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
British Dictionary definitions for ceorl


a freeman of the lowest class in Anglo-Saxon England
Derived Forms
ceorlish, adjective
Word Origin
Old English; see churl
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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