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[pur-loo, purl-yoo] /ˈpɜr lu, ˈpɜrl yu/
purlieus, environs or neighborhood.
a place where one may range at large; confines or bounds.
a person's haunt or resort.
an outlying district or region, as of a town or city.
a piece of land on the edge of a forest, originally land that, after having been included in a royal forest, was restored to private ownership, though still subject, in some respects, to the operation of the forest laws.
Origin of purlieu
1475-85; alteration (simulating French lieu place) of earlier parlewe, parley, paraley purlieu of a forest < Anglo-French purale(e) a going through, equivalent to pur (< Latin prō for, pro1, confused with per through) + aller (see alley1) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for purlieu
Historical Examples
  • Hamlyn's purlieu had never known such gaieties as during the fifteen years of Mrs. Allerton's married life.

    The Explorer W. Somerset Maugham
  • A great fear seized her that it would be impossible to keep Hamlyn's purlieu, and she was stricken with panic.

    The Explorer W. Somerset Maugham
  • Fred Allerton could see the great old elms that surrounded Hamlyn's purlieu; and his eyes were fixed steadily upon them.

    The Explorer W. Somerset Maugham
  • Each forest was surrounded by its "purlieu," or belt of pasturage, for the deer to graze in.

    A History of Police in England W. L. Melville Lee
  • The girl was brought up among exiles and political criminals in the purlieu of Montmartre.

    Carnac's Folly, Complete Gilbert Parker
  • The forest laws still applied in a modified manner to the purlieu.

  • It is, in fact, a purlieu where the public-houses are overcrowded and the baths not places of great resort.

  • Eye of mocker has not seen, nor foot of unbeliever trod this purlieu, the last to receive his blessing.

    The Fair God Lew Wallace
  • From the eleventh story up, its wide windows surveyed every purlieu of Manhattan.

    Out of the Air Inez Haynes Irwin
British Dictionary definitions for purlieu


(English history) land on the edge of a forest that was once included within the bounds of the royal forest but was later separated although still subject to some of the forest laws, esp regarding hunting
(usually pl) a neighbouring area; outskirts
(often pl) a place one frequents; haunt
(rare) a district or suburb, esp one that is poor or squalid
Word Origin
C15 purlewe, from Anglo-French puralé a going through (influenced also by Old French lieu place), from Old French puraler to traverse, from pur through + aler to go
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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