Villain - Etymology

Etymology

Villain comes from the Anglo-French and Old French vilein, which itself descends from the Late Latin word villanus, meaning "farmhand", in the sense of someone who is bound to the soil of a villa, which is to say, worked on the equivalent of a plantation in Late Antiquity, in Italy or Gaul. It referred to a person of less than knightly status and so came to mean a person who was not chivalrous. As a result of many unchivalrous acts, such as treachery or rape, being considered villainous in the modern sense of the word, it became used as a term of abuse and eventually took on its modern meaning.

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