One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
(in Scotland and Ireland) a farm labourer or tenant occupying a cottage in return for labour.
- ‘Though not free men, they were above the bordars and cottars who held less land, and well above the slaves, who had been numerous in Saxon England.’
- ‘All villeins and cottars in the Seven Kingdoms gather to celebrate the successful harvests of the summer seasons and to prepare for the coming winter.’
- ‘He had also freeborn cottars and slaves to farm his land.’
- ‘Go up into the north and see the cotters living on poorer and poorer than their fathers had been, crowded down and driven off good land on to poor land.’
- ‘All that could be carried off was taken, all that could not was wasted by the fires they kindled, even onto the humblest grain store-house of the poor cottars.’
Late Old English, from cot + -ar.
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