1. A member of a class of small farmers and farm laborers, especially in a preindustrial or underdeveloped society.
2. A person who lives in a rural area; a rustic.
3. A person who is considered crude or uncouth; a boor.
[Middle English paissaunt, from Old French paisant, from pais, country, from Late Latin pāgēnsis, inhabitant of a district, from Latin pāgus, district; see pag- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.