Definition of ceorl in English:



  • (in Anglo-Saxon England) a freeman of the lowest class, ranking directly below a thane.

    • ‘There were three main classes of ceorl, although the dividing line between the classes was indistinct.’
    • ‘If a ceorl and his wife have a child, and the ceorl dies, the mother shall keep her child and bring it up.’
    • ‘The fully armed late Saxon warrior was something more than a ceorl turned soldier.’
    • ‘Even the West Saxon ceorl appears as the head of a free peasant household, owing military service, capable of owning slaves, and with significant legal status.’
    • ‘All ceorls could win promotion through prosperity or military service.’
    bondsman, slave, servant, menial, villein, thrall, helot
    View synonyms


Old English, of Germanic origin; related to carl.