Definitions

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)

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English thegn; see tek- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old English þeġen, þegn, from Proto-Germanic *þegnaz (“man, warrior”), from Proto-Indo-European *teke-, *give birth. Compare Dutch degen, German Degen, Icelandic þegn. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • Pippin's father was this in Lord Of The Rings.

    June 10, 2012

  • also spelled “thegn

    December 7, 2011

  • John Ford's classic reinterpretation of Macbeth as a Western

    May 4, 2008

  • a good Tolkien word

    April 30, 2007