Etymology
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villein (n.)

early 14c., vileyn, spelling variant of villain in its reference to a feudal class of half-free peasants. It tends to keep the literal, historical sense of the word and let the pejorative meanings go with villain; Century Dictionary writes that "the forms villain, villein, etc., are historically one, and the attempt to differentiate them in meaning is idle," but Fowler finds this "a useful piece of differentiation." Related: Villeinage.

updated on March 15, 2014

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Definitions of villein from WordNet

villein (n.)
(Middle Ages) a person who is bound to the land and owned by the feudal lord;
Synonyms: serf / helot
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.