Monday, April 29, 2013

A to Z Challenge 2013: Y - Yeoman

Yeoman

yeo·man [yōmən] n. 1. An attendant, servant, or lesser official in a royal or noble household. 2. A petty officer or noncommissioned officer in the Royal Navy or Marines in charge of signals. 3. A farmer who cultivates his own land, especially a member of a former class of small freeholders in England.

Synonyms: beefeater, yeoman of the guard

Etymology: c.1300, "attendant in a noble household," of unknown origin, perhaps a contraction of Old English iunge man "young man," or from an unrecorded Old English *geaman, equivalent of Old Frisian gaman "villager," from Old English -gea "district, village," cognate with Old Frisian ga, ge, from Proto-Germanic *gaujan.

Sense of "commoner who cultivates his land" is recorded from early 15c.; also the third order of fighting men (late 14c., below knights and squires, above knaves), hence yeomen's service "good, efficient service" (c.1600). Meaning "naval petty officer in charge of supplies" is first attested 1660s. Yeowoman first recorded 1852: "Then I am yeo-woman O the clumsy word!" [Tennyson, "The Foresters"]

How does one word end up with so many distinct meanings? Strange, eh?

Well we've only one more day left now. Just keep swimming.

23 comments:

Steve MC said...

Yeowoman sounds a lot like "Yo, Adrian!"

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I wonder which definition Roland would claim?

Dani said...

Isaac Newton and Thomas Jefferson are from the yeoman class. Crazy, huh! Great word!

Sally said...

I knew of Yeoman of the Guard and yeoman being a farmer but didn't know the other meanings.

Tomorrow is the last day, any ideas for coping with withdrawal symptoms?

Natalie Aguirre said...

Like Alex, I thought of Rolland. Bet you're glad you're almost done with the challenge.

Em-Musing said...

Nice to know there are yeowomen too.

YVONNE LEWIS: said...

A great Y word, here in the UK We have The Yeoman of the Guards so it's not such an unusual word for me.

Yvonne.

Nick Wilford said...

Yeowoman doesn't roll off the tongue, does it?

I thought of Roland but also of an old teacher, Miss Yeoman. We thought we were so witty by greeting her at the start of every class with "Yo, man!" I'm sure it wasn't annoying at all.

SA Larsenッ said...

Yeah, this one has and interesting synonym. LOL

Ornery's Wife said...

I have heard this term before, mostly in retelling of war stories by my Marine dad, but I never really knew what it meant. Lots of interesting meanings!
tm

Melanie Schulz said...

Very strange. In one sense the word means independent, as in cultivates his own field, and in another it means a lower servant.

Nancy Thompson said...

A term used to hear back when I was in Sea Scouts.

SC Author said...

I knew the farmer version :)

C. Lee McKenzie said...

This was great. I loved finding out how many meanings this word had.

C. Lee McKenzie said...

This was great. I loved finding out how many meanings this word had.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That's a lot of definitions.

Saw your comment about my Yoda kitty. We really did call her that when she was little. However, once past the geeky kitten stage, Calvin grew into a gorgeous cat.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

"Come Yeoman, we have quest." Interesting word choice, almost unbelievable the challenge is nearly at an end.

Jay Noel said...

"Beefeater?"

I knew about the servant and the naval signaling officer. But never "beefeater."

Yo, man.

Andrew Leon said...

Actually another word I really don't much like.

Susan Kane said...

There is an actor named "Owain Yeoman" on The Mentalist. Love him, and his name.

Liz said...

I do love words and how many meanings they can have... lovely to meet someone who also looks through dictionaries. I have about 30 of them.. including 6 rhyming dictionaries, one of classical Greek, Latin, French, Portuguese and Spanish quotations etc. Don't have so much time to read them nowadays! Great theme.

http://www.lizbrownleepoet.com

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Matthew .. I'm surprised Yeoman doesn't go back much earlier than early medieval days - perhaps to 700 - 800 AD and Beowulf ... I thought the derivation was more agricultural land oriented, than a member of a nobles household .

Fascinating - thanks. Cheers and congratulations at finishing the A-Z .. Hilary

Tina said...

Great word - even greater etymology. Love that the synonym is beefeater - that's my gin of choice for martinis!
Tina @ Life is Good