The DICT Development Group
1 definition found
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.
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.
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
[1913 Webster] Serfage
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