• purlieu
  • audio pronunciation
  • \PERL-yoo\
  • DEFINITION

noun

1
a : an outlying or adjacent district b : environs, neighborhood
2
a : a frequently visited place : haunt b : confines, bounds
  • EXAMPLES

"The boy, desperately nervous, continued to descend the zig-zag paths that would take him into the very purlieus of his father's house." (Ford Madox Ford, The Last Post)

  • DID YOU KNOW?

In medieval England, if you were fortunate enough to acquire a new piece of land, you would want to have as many ceremonies as possible to make it clear that the land belonged to you. To assert the extent of your land, you might hold a ceremony called a "perambulation," in which you would walk around and record the boundaries of your property in the presence of witnesses. If your land bordered a royal forest, you might find that there was some confusion about where your land started and the royal forest ended. Luckily, the law said that if you performed a perambulation, you could gain at least some degree of ownership over disputed forest tracts, although your use of them would be restricted by forest laws and royals would probably still have the right to hunt on them. Such regained forest property was called a "purlewe" (or as it was later spelled, "purlieu"), which derives from the Anglo-French word for "perambulation."

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