from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A peasant, in Ancient Rome, who was legally tied to the land, but could not be bought or sold
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. The condition of a colonus or serf: a mild form of slavery existing under Roman and early feudal law.
Sorry, no etymologies found.
He thinks that there must have been garden culture in Italy at the beginning of the empire, and that the colonate arose from big estates with petty industry and from the law of mortgage.
Wallon  ascribes the colonate to the administration.
Heisterbergk thinks that the colonate began in the corn provinces, and that it was, at the beginning of the fourth century, on the point of passing away, but the legislation of the fourth century perpetuated it.