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[pez-uh nt] /ˈpɛz ənt/
a member of a class of persons, as in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, who are small farmers or farm laborers of low social rank.
a coarse, unsophisticated, boorish, uneducated person of little financial means.
of, relating to, or characteristic of peasants or their traditions, way of life, crafts, etc.
of or designating a style of clothing modeled on the folk costumes of Western cultures, especially women's full-sleeved, round-necked blouses and long, full skirts.
Origin of peasant
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English paissaunt < Anglo-French paisant, Old French païsant, earlier païsenc, equivalent to païs country (< Late Latin pāgēnsis, equivalent to Latin pāg(us) country district + -ēnsis -ensis) + -enc < Germanic (see -ing3)
Related forms
peasantlike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for peasants
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The principal patrons of this modest watering-place are the peasants.

    In the Heart of Vosges Matilda Betham-Edwards
  • Ere they reached the copse, the peasants had disappeared within it.

    Leila, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • It was hard by the fountain, and the peasants suspended their operations to look at him.

    A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens
  • Midas knew him as soon as the peasants had brought him to the king's palace.

    Classic Myths Mary Catherine Judd
  • Above all, mark the air with which he looks down upon the peasants beside him.

    Micah Clarke Arthur Conan Doyle
British Dictionary definitions for peasants


  1. a member of a class of low social status that depends on either cottage industry or agricultural labour as a means of subsistence
  2. (as modifier): peasant dress
(informal) a person who lives in the country; rustic
(informal) an uncouth or uncultured person
Word Origin
C15: from Anglo-French, from Old French païsant, from païs country, from Latin pāgus rural area; see pagan
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 peasants



early 15c., from Anglo-French paisant (mid-14c.), Old French paisent "local inhabitant" (12c., Modern French paysan), earlier paisenc, from pais "country, region" + Frankish suffix -enc "-ing."

Pais is from Late Latin pagensis "(inhabitant) of the district," from Latin pagus "country or rural district" (see pagan). As a style of garment in fashion (e.g. peasant blouse) from 1953.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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peasants in Culture

peasant definition

A farmer or agricultural worker of low status. The word is applied chiefly to agricultural workers in Asia, Europe, and South America, who generally adhere to traditional agricultural practices and have little social mobility or freedom.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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