Share this entry

varlet Syllabification: var·let
Pronunciation: /ˈvärlət/

Definition of varlet in English:

noun

1 historical A man or boy acting as an attendant or servant.
Example sentences
  • Even among those who rank, at least by economic criteria, as middle-class, the most proximate precedent for their dress style is that of medieval varlets.
2 archaic A dishonest or unprincipled man.
Example sentences
  • What varlet hath done such a blight upon our fair Empire?

Derivatives

varletry

1
Pronunciation: /ˈvärlətrē/
noun
Example sentences
  • I will go and fright the varletry with my presence, and secure, I trust, a horse for Your Majesty, and one for myself.
  • The modern magazine reader is a member of the new bourgeois varletry, the monied class that makes the old nouveau riche look like aristocracy.

Origin

Late Middle English: from Old French, variant of valet 'attendant' (see valet). The sense 'rogue' dates from the mid 16th century.

More
  • valet from Late Middle English:

    Rich men who could afford to employ a valet to look after their clothes had to be careful that he was also not a varlet (mid 16th century), ‘an unprincipled man’, as the words are essentially the same. French valet ‘attendant’ and its early variant varlet are related to vassal (Late Middle English), from medieval Latin vassallus ‘retainer’, which derived from a Celtic word. The first valets were 15th-century footmen who acted as attendants on a horseman.

Words that rhyme with varlet

scarlet, Scarlett, starlet, starlit

Definition of varlet in:

Share this entry

 

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 ads and access premium resources