co·​lo·​nus kə-ˈlō-nəs How to pronounce colonus (audio)
plural coloni kə-ˈlō-ˌnī How to pronounce colonus (audio)
: a tenant farmer in the later Roman Empire who was bound to the land and obliged to pay a rent usually in produce

Word History


Latin, literally, farmer

First Known Use

1857, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of colonus was in 1857

Dictionary Entries Near colonus

Cite this Entry

“Colonus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Feb. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on colonus

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!