Definition of vill in English:



  • (in medieval England) the smallest administrative unit under the feudal system, consisting of a number of houses and their adjacent lands, roughly corresponding to the modern parish.

    • ‘Hence the ‘multiple estate’, the federation of distinct ‘vills’ or townships linked to one manorial centre, which was still prominent in many parts of England in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.’
    • ‘The term ‘villanus’ was used in Domesday Book without any derogatory flavour to indicate persons who lived in ‘vills’ - and therefore formed the largest social class.’
    • ‘At his death he held land in several vills in the neighbourhood of Pilton, where his brother seems to have been living still.’
    • ‘On his return, her husband, though saddened, quickly accepts her decision and endows her with his vill of Chich for a monastery.’
    • ‘We have always been spoiled for choice - in the Domesday Book, there were 1,800 ‘vills’ in Yorkshire.’
    • ‘Round's view was largely based on a somewhat unsystematic and subjective review of the distribution of the assessments across estates, vills and the hundreds of counties.’
    • ‘From there, the men took Agnes to the forest of Knaresborough and then later to the vill of Healaugh where, trembling and tearful, she was forced to exchange words of marriage with John Dale.’
    • ‘Apparently they built houses over the allotments which used to be in the village but the neighbouring vill still has some.’
    • ‘Under this arrangement, the men of each vill were organized into ‘tithings' and expected to answer for each other's good behaviour.’


Early 17th century: from Anglo-Norman French, from Latin villa ‘country house’.