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 (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.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


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]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014



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]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
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"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
The practice of corvee labour to construct pagodas, bridges, roads and irrigation was common during pre-colonial monarchies (Taylor 2009, pp.
A US military occupation (1915-34) brought back corvee labour and introduced bombing from the air, while officials in Washington created the institutions that Haitians would have to live with: the army, above all, which now claims to have the country 'in its hands', was created by an act of the US Congress.
(3) This is very likely related to the greater political and economic power traditionally available to Malays (King 1993:132-134; Miles 1976:143-146), as well as to the fact that while Dayaks were subject to taxes, corvee labour, and even slavery at the hands of the Malay sultanates, Malays living in the same territories were not so treated (Heidhues 2003:27; Davidson 2008:25; Rousseau 1989:46-47).
When the burdens of taxation, corvee labour, conscription, war, raids and slavery became too heavy, there was always the possibility of escaping to the hills where not only the state could be held at a distance but also where the epidemics rampant in the crowded valleys could be avoided.
Their common people are trained in docility by the experience of corvee labour or mass levies, later tax levies, for the construction and maintenance of great public works, first the hydraulic works themselves, then all the roads, fortifications, temples, palaces, all ultimately preserving the great managerial bureaucracy itself.
State control ruined local artisan enterprises and inspired popular uprisings against corvee labour details.
The state allocation of the unemployed to unwaged jobs, so undermining existing waged labour, is such an extreme form of labour conscription that it represents a reversion to pre-capitalist corvee labour. As argued above, this is what one can expect from Reith.
Corvee labour was used as labour power by the lord in his own agricultural production on a large scale.
This chapter demonstrates how the increased pressure on Rwandans to work (pressure based on harsh coercive measures which were justified by the belief that it was good for 'the natives' to 'learn to work', presumably like Europeans were supposed to work) combined with the chiefs' greed, created an intolerable situation of harsh demands in taxes and corvee labour for the average peasant, who during this period were increasingly defined as ethnic Hutu.
The use of forced or corvee labour on public works projects in Egypt probably dates back literally to the construction of the pyramids.
The VOC even changed the terms of labour service to require corvee labour of landless labourers (numpang, panukang, bojang) and not just of landholders, as had been the case prior to the VOC's conquest of the region.
This experience was marked by burdensome changes in tax collection and corvee labour, and a steady rise in the level of opium addiction effected by French colonial intervention.