(redirected from Corvee labor)
Also found in: Thesaurus, Encyclopedia.


 (kôr-vā′, kôr′vā′)
1. Labor exacted by a local authority for little or no pay or instead of taxes and used especially in the maintenance of roads.
2. A day of unpaid work required of a vassal by a feudal lord.

[French corvée and Middle English corve, both from Old French corovee, from Medieval Latin (opera) corrogāta, (work) requested, neuter pl. of Latin corrogātus, past participle of corrogāre, to summon together : com-, com- + rogāre, to ask; see reg- in Indo-European roots.]


1. (Historical Terms) European history a day's unpaid labour owed by a feudal vassal to his lord
2. (Historical Terms) the practice or an instance of forced labour
[C14: from Old French, from Late Latin corrogāta contribution, from Latin corrogāre to collect, from rogāre to ask]



1. unpaid labor for one day, as on the repair of roads, exacted by a feudal lord.
2. an obligation imposed on inhabitants of a district to perform services, as repair of roads, for little or no pay.
[1300–50; Middle English < Middle French < Late Latin corrogāta contribution, collection, n. use of feminine of Latin corrogātus, past participle of corrogāre to collect by asking]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.corvee - unpaid labor (as for the maintenance of roads) required by a lord of his vassals in lieu of taxes
toil, labor, labour - productive work (especially physical work done for wages); "his labor did not require a great deal of skill"
References in periodicals archive ?
Swiddeners were themselves dispersed, hard to monitor, hard to collect for corvee labor or conscription.
31) While waiting to verify the authenticity of papers, guards could detain Asian men in prison to perform corvee labor before they were either reclaimed or recontracted.
While the great majority of these lower-class commoners did not leave behind tomb inscriptions or detailed entries in history books, we are fortunate to find among the famous Dunhuang trove of ancient documents and the more recent tomb discoveries in Turfan Fit several dated government registers of households, tax collection, and corvee labor in northwest Tang China.
In an age of spreading liberalism, they both appeared to go against the tide in terms of labor relations: with corvee labor in Java, and slave and indentured labor in Cuba until the late-nineteenth century.
It was either the knowledge of performing the holy task of building the Temple, or the iron hand of Solomon, that held disaffection with the unwanted burden of corvee labor in check.
According to Scott, for thousands of years, state structures have entailed high costs for their populations, either extracting resources in the form of taxation, slavery, corvee labor, and conscription, or imposing the onerous risks of tyranny, warfare, and epidemics.
Living within the state meant, virtually by definition, taxes, conscription, corvee labor, and, for most, a condition of servitude; these conditions were at the core of the state's strategic and military advantages.