\ ˈthān How to pronounce thane (audio) \

Definition of thane

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a free retainer of an Anglo-Saxon lord especially : one resembling a feudal baron by holding lands of and performing military service for the king
2 : a Scottish feudal lord


geographical name
Tha·​ne | \ ˈtä-nə How to pronounce Thane (audio) \

Definition of Thane (Entry 2 of 2)

town in the state of Maharashtra, western India, north-northeast of Mumbai population 1,841,500

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Other Words from thane


thaneship \ ˈthān-​ˌship How to pronounce Thane (audio) \ noun

Examples of thane in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Fahey's swaggering thane falls apart easily once unmoored from his previous stance as a noble defender of Jack Hickey's Duncan. Kerry Reid,, "First Folio delivers a 'Macbeth' to the fates and the night sky," 26 June 2017 It was settled 1,000 years ago, give or take, when the king gave land to one of his thanes, Earl Aelfheah. Jennifer Moses, New York Times, "Travel Dispatch Newsletter," 7 July 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'thane.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of thane


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for thane


Middle English theyn, thayn (early Scots thayne, thane) "man, servant, noble holding land in exchange for service, retainer," going back to Old English þegn, þegen "servant, attendant, retainer, warrior, thane," going back to Germanic *þegna- (whence also Old Saxon thegan, degan "boy, servant, man, follower of a nobleman, warrior," Old High German, "young man, warrior, hero, member of a lord's retinue," Old Norse þegn "man, freeman, retainer, subject"), of uncertain origin

Note: The traditional etymology for this Germanic word sees it as cognate with Greek téknon "child, young of an animal" (see dystocia), thereby assuming that the meaning "boy" or "youth" is primary. The comparison has been rejected recently on the grounds that a proto-form *tek-no- would yield either *þehna- or *þekka- in Germanic (depending on the position of the accent), not *þegna-. Guus Kroonen (Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic, Brill, 2013) suggests a derivation from Germanic *þegjan- "to request, entreat," though it would require the sense "man owing his status to a superior, retainer" to be primary and the senses "boy, youth, man" to be secondary—a progression not usually found with semantically similar words.

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Time Traveler for thane

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The first known use of thane was before the 12th century

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Cite this Entry

“Thane.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 May. 2021.

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