Definitions

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

  • noun A medieval English freeholder of nonnoble birth holding extensive property.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A freeman.
  • noun Formerly, in England, a freeholder; a yeoman; originally, a person distinguished from the common freeholder by the extent of his possessions, and by his eligibility to the dignities of sheriff, knight of the shire, etc.; in later times, a small landholder.

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

  • noun obsolete An English freeholder, or substantial householder.

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

  • noun obsolete except historical A freeholder, especially as belonging to a class of landowners in the 14th and 15th century ranking below the gentry.

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

  • noun United States historian noted for studies of Black American history (born in 1915)
  • noun a landowner (14th and 15th centuries) who was free but not of noble birth
  • noun printer whose success as an author led him to take up politics; he helped draw up the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution; he played a major role in the American Revolution and negotiated French support for the colonists; as a scientist he is remembered particularly for his research in electricity (1706-1790)

Etymologies

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

[Middle English frankelein, from Anglo-Norman fraunclein, from Anglo-Norman franc; see frank.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English frankelein ("freeholder"), from Anglo-Norman fraunclein ("a landowner of free, but not noble birth"), from fraunc ("free"), from Frankish *Frank (“freeman”) + -lein ("-ling"), from Frankish *-linc (“-ling”), from Proto-Germanic *-lingaz. Cognate with Old High German Franko ("Frank"), Old High German -ling ("-ling"). More at frank, -ling.

Examples

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