One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A person who has stayed in a household for three nights, and so becomes the legal responsibility of the host; a member of a household; a dependant.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in John Cowell (1554–1611), civil lawyer. From early Middle English aȝen hine (also oȝen hine), lit. ‘own servant’, member of one's own household from own + hine, variant of hind, via representations of this early Middle English phrase in Latin and Anglo-Norman texts.
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