One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A piece of land converted from forest to arable use.‘an assart cut from the woods a few years back’
- ‘In July 1203, at the height of the crisis in Normandy, King John instructed his chief forester, Hugh de Neville, to sell forest privileges ‘to make our profit by selling woods and demising assarts.’’
- 1.1mass noun The action of converting forest to arable use.‘heavy penalties were imposed for waste and assart’
Convert (forest) to arable use.‘the Earl of Salisbury was convicted of having assarted 2,300 acres of the parks in 1604’
- ‘In this system land around the village was gradually colonized from the waste (assarted), and cultivated for crops.’
- ‘This land comprised dismembered lands of the old manses or lands won from the former or by assarting from the waste.’
- ‘Clearance of woodland and heath (assarting) continued, especially in the Weald of Kent and Sussex, in the Chiltern hills, and in the Arden district of Warwickshire.’
- ‘In the period down to the early 1300s, he argued, it was population growth which explained the slow but steady economic expansion - the growth of towns, the process of assarting, and the quickening of activity generally.’
Late Middle English (as a noun): from Old French essarter, from medieval Latin ex(s)artare, based on ex ‘out’ + sar(r)ire ‘to weed’. The verb dates from the early 16th century.
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