Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To endow with the rights of citizenship, especially the right to vote.
  • transitive verb To free, as from bondage.
  • transitive verb To bestow a franchise on.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To set free; liberate, as from slavery; hence, to free or release from custody, bad habits, or any restraint.
  • To make free of a state, city, or corporation; admit to the privileges of a freeman or citizen; admit to citizenship.
  • Specifically To confer the electoral franchise upon; admit to the right of voting or taking part in public elections: as, to enfranchise a class of people; to enfranchise (in Great Britain) a borough or a university.
  • To endenizen; naturalize.
  • Synonyms Manumit, Liberate, etc. See emancipate.
  • The feudal law, to free from the obligations of feudal tenure, as to convert a copyhold estate into a freehold.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To set free; to liberate from slavery, prison, or any binding power.
  • transitive verb To endow with a franchise; to incorporate into a body politic and thus to invest with civil and political privileges; to admit to the privileges of a freeman; to give the right to vote.
  • transitive verb To receive as denizens; to naturalize.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb To grant the franchise to an entity, specifically:

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb grant freedom to; as from slavery or servitude
  • verb grant voting rights

Etymologies

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

[Middle English enfraunchisen, from Old French enfranchir, enfranchiss-, to set free : en-, intensive pref.; see en– + franchir (from franc, free; see frank).]

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