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serf

[surf]
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noun
  1. a person in a condition of servitude, required to render services to a lord, commonly attached to the lord's land and transferred with it from one owner to another.
  2. a slave.
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Origin of serf

1475–85; < Middle French < Latin servus slave
Related formsserf·dom, serf·hood, serf·age, noun
Can be confusedserf surf

Synonyms for serf

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for serf

chattel, laborer, servant, vassal, villain, peon, villein, bondservant

Examples from the Web for serf

Historical Examples of serf

  • "I give not the pip of an apple for king or for noble," cried the serf passionately.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Yes; but if he had not been discontented, he would have been a serf still!

  • Taking the serf's head in his hands, he kissed him on both cheeks.

  • But I will tell you what: my mother's grandfather was a peasant—a serf.

    Under Western Eyes

    Joseph Conrad

  • The main division, the widest gulf, divided the feudal lord and the serf.

    Socialism

    John Spargo


British Dictionary definitions for serf

serf

noun
  1. (esp in medieval Europe) an unfree person, esp one bound to the land. If his lord sold the land, the serf was passed on to the new landlord
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Derived Formsserfdom or serfhood, nounserflike, adjective

Word Origin for serf

C15: from Old French, from Latin servus a slave; see serve
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

Word Origin and History for serf

n.

late 15c., "servant, serving-man, slave," from Old French serf "vassal, servant, slave" (12c.), from Latin servum (nominative servus) "slave" (see 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 modern writers with reference to medieval Europeans first recorded 1761 (contemporary Anglo-Latin records used nativus, villanus, or servus).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

serf in Culture

serf

Under feudalism, a peasant bound to his lord's land and subject to his lord's will, but entitled to his lord's protection.

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