Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


English Wikipedia has an article on:


From Middle English denisein, from Old French denzein, from deinz (within) +‎ -ein, from Late Latin deintus (from within), whence French dans.


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /ˈdɛn.ɪ.zən/
  • (file)
  • (file)


denizen (plural denizens)

  1. An inhabitant of a place; one who dwells in.
    The giant squid is one of many denizens of the deep.
    • 1820, Walter Scott, Ivanhoe, Chapter 39,[1]
      [] adversity bends the heart as fire bends the stubborn steel, and those who are no longer their own governors, and the denizens of their own free independent state, must crouch before strangers.
    • 1912: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes, Chapter 6
      The cries of the gorilla proclaimed that it was in mortal combat with some other denizen of the fierce wood. Suddenly these cries ceased, and the silence of death reigned throughout the jungle.
  2. One who frequents a place.
    The denizens of that pub are of the roughest sort.
    • 1839, Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, Chapter 26,[2]
      He was well known to the sallow denizens of the lane; for such of them as were on the look-out to buy or sell, nodded, familiarly, as he passed along.
    • 2015 February 20, Russell Brand, “Let’s kick cold profiteering out of football, along with racism”, in The Guardian (London)[3]:
      As a fan of West Ham United I’m always looking to legitimise my dislike of Chelsea FC. And on first viewing, this week’s jarring retro-Métro-racism seems like a good reason to condemn the denizens of Stamford Bridge.
  3. (Britain, historical) A person with rights between those of naturalized citizen and resident alien (roughly permanent resident), obtained through letters patent.
    • 1548, Edward Hall, The Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Famelies of Lancastre and Yorke, London, The xiiii yere,[4]
      Then by commaundement wer all Fre[n]chemen and Scottes imprisoned and the goodes seazed, and all suche as were denizens were commaunded to shewe their letters patentes []
    • 1765, William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, Book 1, Chapter X, p. 374
      A denizen is a kind of middle state, between an alien and a natural-born subject, and partakes of both.
    • 1803, John Browne Cutting, “A Succinct History of Jamaica” in Robert Charles Dallas, The History of the Maroons, London: Longman and Rees, Volume 1, p. xlv,[5]
      All free persons were authorized and permitted to transport themselves, their families, and goods [] to Jamaica, from any part of the British dominions; and their children born in Jamaica were declared free denizens of England, entitled to the same privileges as free born subjects of England.
    Though born in Iceland, he became a denizen of Britain after leaving Oxford.
  4. (biology) An animal or plant from a particular range or habitat.
    The bald eagle is a denizen of the northern part of the state.
  5. A foreign word that has become naturalised in another language.

Usage notes[edit]

As a British legal category, used between 13th and 19th century (mentioned but not used in 20th century), made obsolete by naturalisation – see denization.


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


denizen (third-person singular simple present denizens, present participle denizening, simple past and past participle denizened)

  1. (transitive, Britain, historical) To grant rights of citizenship to; to naturalize.
    He was denizened to Ireland after fleeing his home country.
    • 1664, John Evelyn, Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber, London: 1670, Chapter 7, “Of the Chesnut,” p. 42,[6]
      [The Horse-Chessnut] was first brought from Constantinople to Vienna, thence into Italy, and so France; but to Ʋs from the Levant more immediately, and flourishes so well, and grows so goodly a Tree in compe[te]nt time, that by this alone, we might have ample encouragement to Denizen other strangers amongst us.
    • 1693, John Dryden (translator), The Satires of Decimus Junius Juvenalis, London: Jacob Tonson, The Third Satyr, p. 38,[7]
      Poor Refugies at first, they purchase here:
      And, soon as Denizen’d, they domineer.
  2. (transitive) To provide with denizens; to populate with adopted or naturalized occupants.
    • 1849, Joseph Dalton Hooker, “Extracts from the Private Letters of Dr. J. D. Hooker, written during a Botanical Mission to India” in William Jackson Hooker (editor), Hooker’s Journal of Botany and Kew Garden Miscellany, London: Reeve, Benham and Reeve, Volume 1, p. 85,[8]
      There were a few islets in the sand [] . These were at once denizened by the Calotropis, Argemone, Tamarix, Gnaphalium luteoalbum and two other species [] .