peasantry

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From peasant +‎ -ry, from Middle English paissaunt.

Noun[edit]

peasantry (countable and uncountable, plural peasantries)

  1. (historical) Impoverished rural farm workers, either as serfs, small freeholders or hired hands.
    • 1920, Sinclair Lewis, Main Street, Chapter 3.
      They distressed her. They were so stolid. She had always maintained that there is no American peasantry, and she sought now to defend her faith by seeing imagination and enterprise in the young Swedish farmers, and in a traveling man working over his order-blanks. But the older people, Yankees as well as Norwegians, Germans, Finns, Canucks, had settled into submission to poverty. They were peasants, she groaned.
  2. Ignorant people of the lowest social status; bumpkins, rustics.
    • 1885, George Eliot, Silas Marner, Chapter 1.
      Such strange lingering echoes of the old demon worship might perhaps even now be caught by the diligent listener among the gray-haired peasantry; for the rude mind with difficulty associates the ideas of power and benignity.

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