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illustration Purlieu



Part of speech: noun

Origin: French, late 15th century


The area near or surrounding a place; a person’s usual haunts.


(British historical) a tract on the border of a forest, especially one earlier included in it and still partly subject to forest laws.

Examples of Purlieu in a sentence

"The purlieu of Mr. Collins’s property was unkempt."

"The auditorium was a natural purlieu for theater students. "

About Purlieu

This word is likely an alteration (suggested by the French lieu, meaning “place”) of the Anglo-Norman French “puralee,” meaning “a going round to settle the boundaries.”

Did you Know?

During medieval times in England, the lucky few who were able to acquire new land would hold many ceremonies to make it clear that the land belonged to them. This kind of ceremony was called a “perambulation,” where the landowner would walk around and record the boundaries of his property with witnesses around. If the land bordered a royal forest, there could be some confusion about the boundaries, but a perambulation made it possible for these owners to gain at least some degree of ownership — even if royals still had the right to hunt on them. This kind of regained forest property was called a “purlewe,” later changed to “purlieu.”

illustration Purlieu

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