vil·​lein | \ ˈvi-lən How to pronounce villein (audio) , ˈvi-ˌlān, vi-ˈlān How to pronounce villein (audio) \
plural villeins

Definition of villein

1 : a free common villager or village peasant of any of the feudal classes lower in rank than the thane
2 : a free peasant of a feudal class higher in rank than a cotter
3 : 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 example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'villein.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of villein

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for villein

Middle English vilain, vilein — more at villain

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

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Cite this Entry

“Villein.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.

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