One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Usually in form smallman. A minor manorial tenant holding land by copyhold. Now historical.
2With the. The typical small-scale proprietor of land or (now especially) a business.
Late Middle English. From small + man. Earlier currency is implied by post-classical Latin smalemannus, in the same sense. The word is also attested early as a personal name, e.g. Smalemande Cobbeham, and surname, e.g. Hubert Smaleman and Richard Smaleman, although the precise sense is unclear.
small man/ˈsmɔːl man/
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