1. A member of the lowest feudal class, legally bound to a landed estate and required to perform labor for the lord of that estate in exchange for a personal allotment of land.
2. An agricultural laborer under various similar systems, especially in Russia and eastern Europe in the 1700s and 1800s.
3. A person in bondage or servitude.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin servus, slave.]
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.