One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A farmer who holds land under the métayage system.
Late 18th century; earliest use found in Adam Smith (bap. 1723, d. 1790), moral philosopher and political economist. From French métayer from meitié, moitié + -ier, after post-classical Latin medietarius person owing half tithes (860), hereditary tenant farmer entitled to half the yield from classical Latin medietās + -ārius.
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