Middle English paissaunt, from Anglo-French paisant,pesaunt, from pais, paiis country, from Late Latin pagensis inhabitant of a district, from Latin pagus district; akin to Latin pangere to fix — more at pact
Any member of a class that tills the soil as small landowners or agricultural labourers. The peasant economy generally has a simple technology and a division of labour by age and sex. The basic unit of production is the family or household. Peasant families traditionally consume what they produce, though a portion of their output may be sold in the market or paid to a landlord. Productivity per worker and yields per unit of land are usually low. Peasants as a class tend to disappear as a society industrializes, though peasantlike social structures may persist under new economic regimens. See alsoejido; feudalism; hacienda; serfdom.