Share this entry

Share this page

serf

Line breaks: serf
Pronunciation: /səːf
 
/

Definition of serf in English:

noun

An agricultural labourer bound by the feudal system who was tied to working on his lord’s estate.
Example sentences
  • Here in the Thirty Years War, the seigneurial system collapsed and serfs refused to perform labour services.
  • One could argue that the feudal system of lords and serfs was a form of sharecropping.
  • In feudal times the serfs had to rely on the beneficence of the lord of the manor.
Synonyms

Origin

late 15th century (in the sense 'slave'): from Old French, from Latin servus 'slave'.

Derivatives

serfage

1
noun
Example sentences
  • The Village Assemblies, too, have become worse than they were in the days of serfage.
  • When the Emancipation question was raised there was a considerable diversity of opinion as to the effect which the abolition of serfage would have on the material interests of the two classes directly concerned.

serfdom

2
noun
Example sentences
  • Throughout the long history of medieval serfdom, the serf was required to perform labor services for his lord.
  • Under serfdom, agricultural productivity was low, and only 2 or 3 per cent of the total population could be kept under arms, which meant about 700,000 at the front line.
  • Both had called for redemption of dues and abolition of serfdom and labour services; but others saw that feudalism did not end there.

Definition of serf in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day peart
Pronunciation: pɪət
adjective
lively; cheerful