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


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /ˈdɛn.ɪ.zən/
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denizen (plural denizens)

  1. An inhabitant of a place; one who dwells in.
    The giant squid is one of many denizens of the deep.
  2. One who frequents a place.
    The denizens of that pub are of the roughest sort.
    • 1839, Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, Chapter 26,[1]
      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)[2]:
      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,[3]
      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,[4]
      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. 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.
  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,[6]
      There were a few islets in the sand [] . These were at once denizened by the Calotropis, Argemone, Tamarix, Gnaphalium luteoalbum and two other species [] .