Definition of Saxon in English:



  • 1A member of a people that inhabited parts of central and northern Germany from Roman times, many of whom conquered and settled in much of southern England in the 5th–6th centuries.

    • ‘The fifth and sixth centuries saw increased Germanic settlement although the balance of local power fluctuated between Britons and Saxons.’
    • ‘In particular, the Danes, Norse and Saxons regularly tattooed themselves with family symbols and crests, and the early Britons used tattoos in ceremonies.’
    • ‘When Charlemagne conquered the Saxons, he extended his empire to the borders of Viking realms: specifically, to Friesland in southern Denmark.’
    • ‘In the course of the fourth century it would appear that the Romans lost the initiative and became essentially reactive to external invasions and pressures, be it from Picts, Scots, Saxons, Franks, or the unlocated Attacotti.’
    • ‘This instrument was certainly used by both Viking and Saxon, although not just for music - it was used when hunting and on the battlefield too.’
    • ‘The Saxons of the fifth century were better known and more widely spread, occupying the present Westphalia, Hanover and Brunswick.’
    • ‘But the antagonism between Norman and Saxon in the Robin Hood stories reflected a real one that lasted long after the death of the Conqueror.’
    • ‘The Bayeaux Tapestry shows that the Saxons rained down arrows on the advancing Normans - so the advance up the hill would have been very dangerous for men and horses.’
    • ‘Glass was used in a number of ways by the Saxons and Vikings; for drinking vessels, window glass, jewellery, enamelling and beads.’
    • ‘There was relative peace with British rule over the western half of the country and Germanic rule in the east for the next fifty years, and it seems likely that the Britons may even have regained some areas of central England from the Saxons.’
    • ‘In Medieval England, the Normans used barely skilled Saxons as labourers and the tools they used were limited - axes, chisels etc.’
    • ‘The Broadaxe, or Dane-axe, was a two handed axe introduced by the Vikings in the late tenth century but which soon became popular with Saxons as well, and was probably developed from the axes used to slaughter animals.’
    • ‘Large-scale migrations of Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Danes, and Norsemen, and substantial movements between Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, make estimates very hazardous.’
    • ‘In 568, the Lombards under their king, Alboin, raised an army in Pannonia that also included Gepids, Suebians, Sarmatians, Bulgars, Saxons, Roman provincials, and others.’
    • ‘It appears that, in a time of constant conflict between Saxons and Danes, some Viking landowners chose to celebrate their military status and Scandinavian heritage.’
    • ‘Although only second in command, Alfred led the Saxons to victory.’
    • ‘Of the migrating peoples, the Angles and Saxons settled in south and east Britain, applying many of their jewellery designs and distinctive animal patterns to the ornament of Christian manuscripts and metalwork.’
    • ‘There is an unverified tradition that Welsh warriors wore leeks in their hats to show which side they were on in a victorious battle against the Saxons in the 7th century, and that that is why the leek is the symbol of Wales.’
    • ‘Faced with invasion by a coalition of Picts and Saxons, the Roman citizens of Britain appeal to the Emperor for help; but Honorius is in no position to aid them.’
    • ‘Apart from iron and bronze, the Saxons and Vikings made use of other metals, mainly for jewellery.’
    1. 1.1A native of modern Saxony in Germany.
  • 2[mass noun] The language of the Saxons, in particular.

    1. 2.1The West Germanic language of the ancient Saxons.
    2. 2.2
      another term for Old English
    3. 2.3The Low German dialect of modern Saxony.


  • 1Relating to the Anglo-Saxons, their language (Old English), or their period of dominance in England (5th–11th centuries).

    • ‘The flood tide of Saxon domination of England was shortly to turn and ebb with the Norman invasion.’
    • ‘He gave fiefs to Norman lords, trying to keep the Saxon barons from becoming too strong.’
    • ‘Across much of midland England wide-ranging changes took place in the countryside in the late Saxon period.’
    • ‘Duxford is known to have been a wealthy royal holding in the Saxon period.’
    • ‘The largest pieces of wood working done during the Saxon period must have been for the buildings.’
    • ‘The period of Roman decline and the early history of the Saxon kingdoms remains obscure.’
    • ‘Norman invasions resulted in the destruction of Saxon works and Danish invasions destroyed most of the written works of the continent.’
    • ‘Offa's Dyke is the man-made boundary that was created by the Saxon king Offa in the 8th Century AD, to defend the border between England and Wales.’
    • ‘However, the numbers of pigs kept gradually decreases throughout the Saxon period.’
    • ‘Wales is contiguous to England and had been the subject of Saxon raids for centuries.’
    • ‘Particularly in the Saxon pagan period, gold jewellery was often inset with precious or semi-precious stones such as garnet.’
    • ‘Among the stories written down in the twelfth century about the Saxon outlaw Hereward and his guerrilla warfare against the Norman conquerors, one tells how he slipped into the King's camp disguised as a potter.’
    • ‘Of greater use to the Welsh kings of the tenth and eleventh centuries was the supply of Viking and Saxon mercenaries.’
    • ‘For much of the Saxon period it was probably fairly wide and marshy, perhaps acting as a separator between Westwyk and Conesford.’
    • ‘The castles were all but impregnable and served as Norman anchors in a Saxon sea.’
    • ‘The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a work still under composition after the Norman Conquest, embodies accounts and memories of Saxon military success in southern Britain in the fifth and sixth centuries.’
    • ‘England is divided in a bitter rivalry between the older Saxon inhabitants, and the more recent Norman overlords who have ruled since their conquest in 1066.’
    • ‘It is next to a church tower designed by Christopher Wren, which is all that remains of a building that started out as the royal chapel of the Saxon kings and was partly destroyed in World War II.’
    • ‘The Normans considered the Saxon dialect unintelligent, and the Saxons understandably resented this.’
    • ‘Portchester Castle is the site of a third century Roman fort built to guard against Saxon raids.’
    1. 1.1Relating to or denoting the style of early Romanesque architecture preceding the Norman in England.
      • ‘Extensive remains of a Saxon minster of 8th century date are incorporated within the church, thought to be the oldest in South Yorkshire and of a type believed to have been associated with royal estates.’
      • ‘Within the church, parts of the Saxon north wall can be seen above the Norman arcade.’
      • ‘On the outside of the north wall, (about a third of the way down the Nave), the remains of a Saxon doorway can be seen, complete with round headed arch and jambs of flint.’
      • ‘The site develops with the construction of an aisled Late Saxon timber hall, which was one of King Cnut's royal manors.’
      • ‘A vertical-wheeled mill is known from the royal site of Old Windsor in Berkshire dating from the late 7th century, and a later Saxon mill has been excavated from Tamworth, the Mercian capital.’
  • 2Relating to Saxony or the continental Saxons or their language.

    • ‘As a place of cure and fashion, it developed rapidly in the late nineteenth century following approval by the Saxon kings.’


Middle English: from Old French, from late Latin and Greek Saxones (plural), of West Germanic origin; related to Old English Seaxan, Seaxe (plural), perhaps from the base of sax.