from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A member of the lowest feudal class, attached to the land owned by a lord and required to perform labor in return for certain legal or customary rights.
- n. An agricultural laborer under various similar systems, especially in 18th- and 19th-century Russia and eastern Europe.
- n. A person in bondage or servitude.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A partially free peasant of a low hereditary class, slavishly attached to the land owned by a feudal lord and required to perform labour, enjoying minimal legal or customary rights.
- n. A similar agricultural labourer in 18th and 19th century Europe.
- n. A worker unit.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. A servant or slave employed in husbandry, and in some countries attached to the soil and transferred with it, as formerly in Russia.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A villein; one of those who in the middle ages were in capable of holding property, were attached to the land and transferred with it, and were subject to feudal services of the most menial description; in early English history, one who was not free, but by reason of being allowed to have an interest in the cultivation of the soil, and a portion of time to labor for himself, had attained a status superior to that of a slave.
- n. A laborer rendering forced service on an estate under seigniorial prescription, as formerly in Russia.
- n. Figuratively, an oppressed person; a menial.
- n. Synonyms Serf, Slave. The serf is, in strictness, attached to the soil, and goes with it in all sales or leases. The slave is absolutely the property of his master, and may be sold, given away, etc., like any other piece of personal property. See definitions of peon and coolie. See also servitude.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. (Middle Ages) a person who is bound to the land and owned by the feudal lord
Middle English, from Old French, from Latin servus, slave.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French serf, from Latin servus ("slave, serf, servant"), perhaps of Etruscan origin (Wiktionary)