• synonyms


[pur-loo, purl-yoo]
  1. purlieus, environs or neighborhood.
  2. a place where one may range at large; confines or bounds.
  3. a person's haunt or resort.
  4. an outlying district or region, as of a town or city.
  5. 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.
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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)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for purlieus

periphery, boundary, edge, outskirts, fringe, environs, neighborhood, district, area, locale, vicinity, hangout, haunt

Examples from the Web for purlieus

Historical Examples of purlieus

  • It is in the purlieus of the Law Courts and very hard to find.

    Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 158, April 28, 1920


  • The office, and all the purlieus of the office, were occupied by a dense crowd.

  • Beside it even the purlieus of Rome sink into insignificance.

    An Outcast

    F. Colburn Adams

  • I do not speak of card-playing about the purlieus of Piccadilly.

    The Quadroon

    Mayne Reid

  • Crawford, prowling in the purlieus of society, had seen Miss Castle.

    A Young Man in a Hurry

    Robert W. Chambers

British Dictionary definitions for purlieus


  1. 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
  2. (usually plural) a neighbouring area; outskirts
  3. (often plural) a place one frequents; haunt
  4. rare a district or suburb, esp one that is poor or squalid
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Word Origin for purlieu

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