Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Chiefly British A homestead.
  • n. Chiefly British A hillock.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a homestead, especially one on a hill

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A knoll or hill.
  • n. A grove of trees; also, a plain.
  • n. A place where a messuage has once stood; the site of a burnt or decayed house.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A hillock; a slightly elevated and exposed site; open ground.
  • n. A messuage; a house and homestead. Also toftstead.
  • n. In English common law:
  • n. A messuage the tenant of which is entitled by virtue of it to rights of common in other land in the parish or district.
  • n. A piece of ground on which a messuage formerly stood, and which, though the messuage be gone to decay, is still called by a name indicating something more than mere land.
  • n. A grove of trees.

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English, from Old Norse topt; see dem- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old Norse 'topt', from Proto-Indo-European *dmpedom "floor", a compound of *dem- "to build" and *ped- "foot". (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • In Northumberland, Durham, Cumberland, Westmoreland and Lancashire thorpe is comparatively rare, while toft is not found at all.

    languagehat.com: SCANDINAVIAN INFLUENCE ON SCOTS.

  • This isn't the case – there is at least one “toft” that I can think of – Toft Hill in County Durham.

    languagehat.com: SCANDINAVIAN INFLUENCE ON SCOTS.

  • When he'd made me landless he offered to leave me the toft if I'd bind myself to turn over all my work to him for my keep.

    The Hermit of Eyton Forest

  • Well, he had known them crop up in cottage no less than in castle, in croft and toft, and among the soil-bound villein families, too.

    The Virgin In The Ice

  • Beyond the pond, where ducks gossiped and plunged, he saw the stacked wood seasoning, and came at once to the toft, a large undercroft well stocked with tools and materials, a room and a garret above, and in the yard before the house, a wagon standing, propped short of one wheel.

    The Leper of Saint Giles

  • Kirkton of St Vigeans, with the muir-fauld and the toft of St Vigeans, and a piece of common land lying to the south of the church.

    The Scottish Reformation Its Epochs, Episodes, Leaders, and Distinctive Characteristics

  • And it's a Lowes toft, too, the real thing -- the genuine, true soft paste!

    Miss Billy's Decision

  • When morning was, there were horns sounding from the tower on the toft, and all men hastening in their war-gear to the topmost of the other toft, the bare one, whereon was no building; for thereon was ever the mote-stead of these woodmen.

    Child Christopher and Goldilind the Fair

  • It is 60 yards long and toft, wide, is floored with wood, and has a picket parapet supported by lateral chains.

    AN AUSTRALIAN IN CHINA

  • Not far off was the village or town of the tenants, the houses all clustering close together, each house standing in a toft or yard with some buildings, and built of wood, turf, clay, or wattles, with only one room which the tenant shared with his live stock, as in parts of Ireland to-day.

    A Short History of English Agriculture

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