vil·​lein ˈvi-lən How to pronounce villein (audio)
vi-ˈlān How to pronounce villein (audio)
plural villeins
: a free common villager or village peasant of any of the feudal classes lower in rank than the thane
: a free peasant of a feudal class higher in rank than a cotter
: an unfree peasant enslaved to a feudal lord but free in legal relations with respect to all others

Examples of villein in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Thus, villeins were blamed for the evils disrupting an otherwise peaceful world. Marisha Pessl, New York Times, 25 Oct. 2017

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'villein.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English vilain, vilein — more at villain

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of villein was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near villein

Cite this Entry

“Villein.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


vil·​lein ˈvil-ən How to pronounce villein (audio) ˈvil-ˌān How to pronounce villein (audio)
: a free peasant
: an unfree peasant having the status of a slave to a feudal lord

More from Merriam-Webster on villein

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