Japanese masterless samurai. Because samurai received their livelihood from their lord in return for service, a masterless samurai was essentially a vagabond unless he could enter the service of another lord. Ronin could be disruptive to society; at the beginning of the Tokugawa period (the early 17th century), ronin led unsuccessful revolts against the shogunate. The most famous ronin were the 47 whose actions were celebrated in the kabuki play Chushingura. By avenging their lord's death in defiance of a shogunal order forbidding the vendetta, the 47 ronin, who were subsequently forced to commit seppuku (ritual suicide), came to be seen as embodiments of the ideals of bushido, the warrior's code.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on ronin, visit

Seen & Heard

What made you look up ronin? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.

Get Our Free Apps
Voice Search, Favorites,
Word of the Day, and More
Join Us on FB & Twitter
Get the Word of the Day and More