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1 definition found
 for Serf
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Serf \Serf\, n. [F., fr. L. serus servant, slave; akin to
     servare to protect, preserve, observe, and perhaps
     originally, a client, a man under one's protection. Cf.
     Serve, v. t.]
     A servant or slave employed in husbandry, and in some
     countries attached to the soil and transferred with it, as
     formerly in Russia.
     [1913 Webster]
  
           In England, at least from the reign of Henry II, one
           only, and that the inferior species [of villeins],
           existed . . . But by the customs of France and Germany,
           persons in this abject state seem to have been called
           serfs, and distinguished from villeins, who were only
           bound to fixed payments and duties in respect of their
           lord, though, as it seems, without any legal redress if
           injured by him.                          --Hallam.
     [1913 Webster]
  
     Syn: Serf, Slave.
  
     Usage: A slave is the absolute property of his master, and
            may be sold in any way. A serf, according to the
            strict sense of the term, is one bound to work on a
            certain estate, and thus attached to the soil, and
            sold with it into the service of whoever purchases the
            land.
            [1913 Webster] Serfage

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