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Learned borrowing from Old English hlāford. Doublet of lord and laird.


hlaford (plural hlafords)

  1. An Anglo-Saxon lord.
    • 1830, John Allen, “Tardy Growth of Many of the Royal Prerogatives”, in Inquiry into the Rise and Growth of the Royal Prerogative in England, London: [] Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, [], page 44:
      The King was considered as the hlaford of the nation; and in consequence of that supposition, the security given to inferior hlafords against their particular retainers was in his case extended to all his subjects.
    • 1866, William C. Pearce, Samuel Hague, “Saxon and Danish Period”, in Analysis of English History. A Text-Book for Colleges and Schools., London: Thos. Murby, [], pages 18–19:
      The Eorls constituted the nobility of the land, and were subdivided into two orders, the Hlafords or land-owners, and the Sithcundmen, who were nobles by birth, but less wealthy than the hlafords. To this class, too, belonged the Thanes, who originally were those to whom land was granted, as a feudal tenure; this title, however, in due time became equivalent to Earl, the King’s thane ranking with the hlafords, and the lesser thane with the sithcundmen.
    • 1905, Paul Vinogradoff, The Growth of the Manor, page 240:
      In the light of these ecclesiastical donations, the assignment of hides to secular thanes mentioned in the enactments of Ine almost looks like the institution of hlafords over districts rated at a certain number of hides: these hlafords were answerable for a certain proportion of actual settlers on the land they had received, and there is nothing to show that only new colonists were meant: []

Old English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]


From earlier hlāfweard, from hlāf (bread) + weard (ward). See also hlǣfdīġe.


  • IPA(key): /ˈxlɑː.ford/, [ˈl̥ɑː.vorˠd]


hlāford m

  1. lord, master of servants or slaves
    • c. 990, Wessex Gospels, Matthew 6:24
      Ne mæġ nān mann twām hlāfordum þēowian: oþþe hē sōðlīċe ǣnne hataþ and ōðerne lufaþ, oþþe hē biþ ānum ġehīersum and ōðrum unġehīersum. Ne magon ġē Gode þēowian and weoroldwelan.
      No one can serve two masters. They will either hate one and love the other, or obey one and disobey the other. You can't serve God and money.
  2. male head of a household

Usage notes[edit]

  • For the Lord (i.e. God), the proper noun Dryhten is used.


Derived terms[edit]