PEASANT (O. Fr. paysant, Mod. paysan; Lat. pagensis, belonging to the pagus or country; cf. " pagan"), a countryman or rustic, either working for others, or, more specifically, owning or renting and working by his own labour a small plot of ground. Though a word of not very strict application, it is now frequently used of the rural population of such countries as France, where the land is chiefly held by small holders, " peasant proprietors." (See ALLOTMENTS and METAYAGE).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)