Definition of yeoman in English:



  • 1historical A man holding and cultivating a small landed estate; a freeholder.

    • ‘A market revolution occurred as a yeoman and cash crop agriculture and capitalist manufacturing replaced artisan economy.’
    • ‘Around 1700 they had less wealth than yeomen in each region, but by 1810 they owned as much personal estate as yeomen and were approaching the wealth of farmers.’
    • ‘It is at this point that we see the emergence of the yeoman farmer: a peasant smallholder with up to 100 acres of land.’
    • ‘They rearranged their estates to create larger tenant farms on rack rents, with a decline in small yeomen farmers with customary tenure or freeholds.’
    • ‘A virtuous citizenry, which Jefferson considered essential to a republican form of government, was most reliably constituted of yeomen farmers he believed.’
    • ‘Until more recently, historical accounts of nonslaveholding whites of the antebellum Southeast have focused heavily on yeomen and sharecroppers.’
    • ‘The poorly-educated son of a yeoman farmer, his social graces, and those of his wife, left something to be desired.’
    • ‘The early Republican ideal of the yeoman farmer was giving way to the virtues of urban capitalism and concern for, or fear of, the urban masses.’
    • ‘For the agricultural writer Arthur Young, yeomen were only freeholders who were not gentry, and the same definition was used by witnesses before the 1833 Select Committee on Agriculture.’
    • ‘Those in the middle of society, whether yeomen farmers or tradesmen, prospered.’
    1. 1.1 A person qualified for certain duties and rights, such as to serve on juries and vote for the knight of the shire, by virtue of possessing free land of an annual value of 40 shillings.
      • ‘As rumours of the impending rising grew stronger the Government ordered John Derenzy to form a party of yeomen in the area.’
      • ‘These folks here at the sheriff's office have done a yeoman's job for the citizens of this county.’
      • ‘The event at the Charterhouse, where the young Elizabeth I stayed before acceding to the English throne, featured musicians, a court jester and yeomen guards in a bid to recreate the regal splendour of the Tudor age.’
      • ‘The hoplite's presence on the battlefield was a reflection of his own free status in the polis community and thus reinforced his privileged position as a free yeoman farmer and voting citizen.’
  • 2historical A servant in a royal or noble household, ranking between a sergeant and a groom or a squire and a page.

    • ‘Throughout the medieval period the term yeoman was used within the royal and noble households to indicate a servant's rank, degree, position or status.’
    • ‘One contemporary account notes that before her visit to Croydon in April and May 1585 a gentleman usher called Francis Coot and nine yeomen and grooms spent eight days making ready for her Majesty the Bishop's house.’
    • ‘In other words, whose servant is the yeoman, the squire's servant or the knight's servant?’
    • ‘Popular printed portraits of Elizabeth may have been more expensive but they would have been in reach of yeomen, artisans, clerks and many others who lived above a subsistance income.’
    • ‘One is a canon; the other his yeoman (servant). The Host welcomes them and asks whether either has a tale to tell.’
    • ‘In the 17th century it developed into a general term for the lord of the manor, well below the level of nobility, but far above yeomen.’
  • 3historical A member of the yeomanry force.

    • ‘Many stories told about O'Keefe recount his daring and athletic escapes from pursuing yeomen and soldiers.’
    • ‘The suffering caused is remembered in the many stories about women fleeing their homes and taking refuge for fear of soldier and yeoman repression.’
  • 4(in the Royal and other Commonwealth navies) a petty officer concerned with signalling.

    • ‘A signalling (tactical communications) petty officer in the British Royal Navy (known as a 'Yeoman of Signals').’
    1. 4.1 A petty officer in the US navy performing clerical duties on board ship.
      • ‘Gary was assigned basic training in Orlando ... serving as Operations Yeoman and Squadron Admin Awards Petty Officer.’
      • ‘Petty Officer, U.S. Navy enlisted rate insignia; comparative military ranks ... such as MM for Machinist's Mate, QM for Quartermaster, or YN for Yeoman.’
      • ‘US Navy yeoman Jack Adams witnessed the war in the Pacific.’
      • ‘As a young Yeoman Petty Officer, Hal was assigned to the U.S.S. COLORADO.’
      • ‘For cold weather wear there was a navy blue cape. The normal Yeoman's rating badge was worn on the jacket's left sleeve.’


Middle English: probably from young + man.