from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A freeman granted land by the king in return for military service in Anglo-Saxon England.
- n. A man ranking above an ordinary freeman and below a nobleman in Anglo-Saxon England.
- n. A feudal lord or baron in Scotland.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. in Anglo-Saxon England, a man holding lands from the king, or from a superior in rank. There were two orders, the king's thanes, who attended the kings in their courts and held lands immediately of them, and the ordinary thanes, who were lords of manors and who had particular jurisdiction within their limits. After the Norman Conquest, this title was no longer used, and baron took its place.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. A dignitary under the Anglo-Saxons and Danes in England. Of these there were two orders, the king's thanes, who attended the kings in their courts and held lands immediately of them, and the ordinary thanes, who were lords of manors and who had particular jurisdiction within their limits. After the Conquest, this title was disused, and baron took its place.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In early English history, a member of a rank above that of the ordinary freeman, and differing from that of the athelings, or hereditary ancient nobility.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. a feudal lord or baron
- n. a man ranking above an ordinary freeman and below a noble in Anglo-Saxon England (especially one who gave military service in exchange for land)
˜Master,™ he called the thane, but had never thought of him as such.
While, since thegn and thane are both archaisms, I prefer the former; not only for the same reason that induces Sir Francis Palgrave to prefer it, viz., because it is the more etymologically correct; but because we take from our neighbours the Scotch, not only the word thane, but the sense in which we apply it; and that sense is not the same that we ought to attach to the various and complicated notions of nobility which the Anglo-Saxon comprehended in the title of thegn.
A thane was a sort of chieftain in the Saxon state.
At least Shakespeare used 'thane', so anyone who has ever seen or read the Scottish Play may have come across it.
I bowed to him, and he took my hand, calling me "thane" in all good faith.
"Then," he went on, "come you to the hall door and bide there while I go in and call the thane thither.
I want to start a membership site and I hear they are better thane-junkie with that.
The title of Thain is of course a variant spelling of thane, a title used by the Anglo-Saxon nobility.
There was no such fixed system of precedence as among the modern English aristocracy, but a thane was generally inferior to an earl, and about equivalent to a baron on the Continent.
Scotland becomes a place of brutal pragmatism in which Ross is transformed from an anonymous thane into a relic of an isolated priesthood.