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yeoman

[yoh-muh n]
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noun, plural yeo·men.
  1. a petty officer in a navy, having chiefly clerical duties in the U.S. Navy.
  2. British. a farmer who cultivates his own land.
  3. History/Historical. one of a class of lesser freeholders, below the gentry, who cultivated their own land, early admitted in England to political rights.
  4. Archaic.
    1. a servant, attendant, or subordinate official in a royal or other great household.
    2. a subordinate or assistant, as of a sheriff or other official or in a craft or trade.
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adjective
  1. of, pertaining to, composed of, or characteristic of yeomen: the yeoman class.
  2. performed or rendered in a loyal, valiant, useful, or workmanlike manner, especially in situations that involve a great deal of effort or labor: He did a yeoman job on the problem.
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Origin of yeoman

1300–50; Middle English yeman, yoman, probably reduced forms of yengman, yongman, yungman, with similar sense; see young, man1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for yeoman

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • He was born in 1769, the son of a yeoman farmer at Churchill, in Oxfordshire.

    Self-Help

    Samuel Smiles

  • His father was an English yeoman; that is, a farmer who owned the farm he tilled.

  • My father was a yeoman—an independent, or, as he was sometimes styled, a gentleman-farmer.

    The Desert Home

    Mayne Reid

  • The fool says no, the madman is the yeoman who has allowed his son to become a gentleman.

  • The yeoman of the signals; a first-class petty officer in the navy.

    The Sailor's Word-Book

    William Henry Smyth


British Dictionary definitions for yeoman

yeoman

noun plural -men
  1. history
    1. a member of a class of small freeholders of common birth who cultivated their own land
    2. an assistant or other subordinate to an official, such as a sheriff, or to a craftsman or trader
    3. an attendant or lesser official in a royal or noble household
  2. (in Britain) another name for yeoman of the guard
  3. (modifier) characteristic of or relating to a yeoman
  4. a petty officer or noncommissioned officer in the Royal Navy or Marines in charge of signals
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Word Origin

C15: perhaps from yongman young man
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 yeoman

n.

c.1300, "attendant in a noble household," of unknown origin, perhaps a contraction of Old English iunge man "young man," or from an unrecorded Old English *geaman, equivalent of Old Frisian gaman "villager," from Old English -gea "district, village," cognate with Old Frisian ga, ge, from Proto-Germanic *gaujan.

Sense of "commoner who cultivates his land" is recorded from early 15c.; also the third order of fighting men (late 14c., below knights and squires, above knaves), hence yeomen's service "good, efficient service" (c.1600). Meaning "naval petty officer in charge of supplies" is first attested 1660s. Yeowoman first recorded 1852: "Then I am yeo-woman O the clumsy word!" [Tennyson, "The Foresters"]

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper