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From Middle English purlewe (piece of land on the edge of a forest), modification under the influence of Old French lieu (place) of porale, purale (royal perambulation), from Old French porale, from poraler (to traverse), from por- (forth) (from Latin prō- + aler, aller (to go).




purlieu (plural purlieus or purlieux)

  1. (historical) The ground on the edges of a forest, especially when partly subject to the same forest laws concerning game hunting etc.
  2. The outskirts of any place; an adjacent district; the environs or neighborhood.
    • 1886, Henry James, The Princess Casamassima.
      He seemed to wish to keep hold of him, and looked at him strangely, over his spectacles... when he learned that Hyacinth had taken a lodging not in their old familiar quarter but in the unexplored purlieus of Westminster.
    • 1985, Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian.
      The mission occupied eight or ten ares of land, a barren purlieu that held a few goats and burros.