/yoh"meuhn/, n., pl. yeomen, adj.n.1. a petty officer in a navy, having chiefly clerical duties in the U.S. Navy.2. Brit. a farmer who cultivates his own land.3. Hist. one of a class of lesser freeholders, below the gentry, who cultivated their own land, early admitted in England to political rights.4. Archaic.a. a servant, attendant, or subordinate official in a royal or other great household.b. a subordinate or assistant, as of a sheriff or other official or in a craft or trade.adj.5. of, pertaining to, composed of, or characteristic of yeomen: the yeoman class.6. performed or rendered in a loyal, valiant, useful, or workmanlike manner, esp. in situations that involve a great deal of effort or labor: He did a yeoman job on the problem.[1300-50; ME yeman, yoman, prob. reduced forms of yengman, yongman, yungman, with similar sense; see YOUNG, MAN1]
* * *▪ English social classin English history, a class intermediate between the gentry and the labourers; a yeoman was usually a landholder but could also be a retainer, guard, attendant, or subordinate official. The word appears in Middle English as yemen, or yoman, and is perhaps a contraction of yeng man or yong man, meaning young man, or attendant. Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (late 14th century) depicts a yeoman who is a forester and a retainer. Most yeomen of the later Middle Ages were probably occupied in cultivating the land; Raphael Holinshed (Holinshed, Raphael), in his Chronicles (1577), described them as having free land worth £6 (originally 40 shillings) annually and as not being entitled to bear arms.
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