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also vil·lain  (vĭl′ən, -ān′, vĭ-lān′)
One of a class of feudal serfs who held the legal status of freemen in their dealings with all people except their lord.

[Middle English vilein; see villain.]
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.


(ˈvɪlən) or


(Historical Terms) (in medieval Europe) a peasant personally bound to his lord, to whom he paid dues and services, sometimes commuted to rents, in return for his land
[C14: from Old French vilein serf; see villain]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈvɪl ən, -eɪn, vɪˈleɪn)

(in the feudal system) a member of a class of persons who were serfs with respect to their lord but had the rights of freemen with respect to others.
[1275–1325; see villain]
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.villein - (Middle Ages) a person who is bound to the land and owned by the feudal lordvillein - (Middle Ages) a person who is bound to the land and owned by the feudal lord
Europe - the 2nd smallest continent (actually a vast peninsula of Eurasia); the British use `Europe' to refer to all of the continent except the British Isles
cottier, cotter - a medieval English villein
thrall - someone held in bondage
Dark Ages, Middle Ages - the period of history between classical antiquity and the Italian Renaissance
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


[ˈvɪlɪn] N (Hist) → villano/a m/f
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


n (Hist) → Leibeigene(r) mf
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007
References in classic literature ?
The four on this side are all workers, three of them in the service of the bailiff of Sir Baldwin Redvers, and the other, he with the sheepskin, is, as I hear, a villein from the midlands who hath run from his master.
For that matter, the professional men and the artists are at this present moment villeins in everything but name, while the politicians are henchmen.
"I spoke of the professional men and the artists as villeins. What else are they?
The author of the late twelfth-century Treatise on the Laws and Customs of England, commonly known as Glanvill, stated that a runaway villein, though legally obliged to stay in his native settlement, could earn his personal freedom if he remained unchallenged for a year and a day in a privileged town (one which held a royal charter) and was admitted as a citizen into the townsmen's commune or gild.
Gray, "The Commutation of Villein Services in England before the Black Death", Eng.
Excavation of the home of the reeve - the villein who acted as general overseer for the manor court - revealed oil lamps and glazed French pottery.
The freedom to conclude a civil contract between peasant and landowner paradoxically extended the villein service system.
Any male slave or villein (no cases involving women have survived) who could demonstrate that his father was of Latin descent automatically gained his freedom.
better than a just and lawful seigniory," makes "his will and comaundment a lawe vnto his owne vassall," whom he treats as "a very slave and villein."(42) Spenser thus concludes that "the chefest abuses which are now in that realme [Ireland], are growne from the Englishe, and the Englishe .
court noted Coke's maxim that a villein freed for an hour is free
(3.) The Oxford English Dictionary defines a villein as "a feudal tenant entirely subject to a lord or manor to whom he paid dues and services in return for land."
It is doubtful that there was any real public' to speak of at the time, given that the main differentiation in personal status was whether one was an unfree villein bound to the land, or a freeman.