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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Soc \Soc\ (s[o^]k), n. [AS. s[=o]c the power of holding court, sway, domain, properly, the right of investigating or seeking; akin to E. sake, seek. Sake, Seek, and cf. Sac, and Soke.] [Written also sock, and soke.]

  1. (O. Eng. Law)

    1. The lord's power or privilege of holding a court in a district, as in manor or lordship; jurisdiction of causes, and the limits of that jurisdiction.

    2. Liberty or privilege of tenants excused from customary burdens.

  2. An exclusive privilege formerly claimed by millers of grinding all the corn used within the manor or township which the mill stands. [Eng.]

    Soc and sac (O. Eng. Law), the full right of administering justice in a manor or lordship.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"right of jurisdiction," Old English socn "jurisdiction, prosecution," literally "seeking," from Proto-Germanic *sokniz, from PIE *sag-ni-, from root *sag- "to seek out" (see seek). Related: Sokeman; sokemanry.


n. 1 (context obsolete English) Any of several medieval rights, either to hold a court, or to receive fines. 2 (context obsolete English) A district under a particular jusridiction.

Soke (legal)

__NOTOC__ The term soke (; in Old English: , connected ultimately with , "to seek"), at the time of the Norman conquest of England generally denoted "jurisdiction", but due to vague usage probably lacks a single precise definition.

In some cases soke denoted the right to hold a court, and in others only the right to receive the fines and forfeitures of the men over whom it was granted when they had been condemned in a court of competent jurisdiction. Its primary meaning seems to have involved seeking; thus soka faldae was the duty of seeking the lord's court, just as was the duty of seeking the lord's mill. The Leges also speaks of pleas (pleas which are in his investigation).

Evidently, however, not long after the Norman Conquest considerable doubt prevailed about the correct meaning of the word. In some versions of the much-used tract soke is defined: , and in others as , which glosses somewhat ambiguously as claim .

The word soke also frequently appears in association with sak or sake in the alliterative jingle sake and soke, but the two words lack etymological links. The word sake represents the Old English , originally meaning "a matter or cause" (from "to contend"), and later the right to have a court. The word soke, however, appears more commonly and appears to have had a wider range of meaning.

The term soke, unlike sake, sometimes applied to the district over which the right of jurisdiction extended (compare Soke of Peterborough).

Adolphus Ballard argued that the interpretation of the word "soke" as jurisdiction should be accepted only where it stands for the fuller phrase, "sake and soke", and that "soke" standing by itself denoted services. Certainly, many passages in the Domesday Book support this contention, but in other passages "soke" seems to serve merely as a short expression for "sake and soke". The difficulties about the correct interpretation of these words will probably not unravel until historians elucidate more fully the normal functions and jurisdiction of the various local courts.

A sokeman belonged to a class of tenants, found chiefly in the eastern counties, occupying an intermediate position between the free tenants and the bond tenants or villeins. As a general rule they had personal freedom, but performed many of the agricultural services of the villeins. Historians generally suppose they bore the rank of "sokemen" because they belonged within a lord's soke or jurisdiction. Ballard, however, held that a sokeman was merely a man who rendered services, and that a sokeland was land from which services were rendered, and was not necessarily under the jurisdiction of a manor.

The law term, socage, used of this tenure, arose by adding the French suffix to .


Soke may refer to:

  • Soke (legal), an early Western jurisdictional concept
  • Soke (dance) or eke, a Tongan stick dance, originating from Wallis and Futuna
  • , a Japanese title meaning "head of the family," and is usually used to denote the headmaster of a school of Japanese martial arts

  • Soke of Peterborough, an administrative region of England until 1965
  • Soke is an alternative spelling of Zoque, a Mexican indigenous people
  • Söke, a town in the Aydın province of Turkey

Söke is a town and a large district of Aydın Province in the Aegean region of western Turkey, 54 km (34 miles) south-west of the city of Aydın, near the Aegean coast. It had 68,020 population in 2010. It neighbours are Germencik from north-east, Koçarlı from east, Milas from south-east, Didim from south-west, Aegean Sea from west and Kuşadası from noth-west.

Soke (dance)

sōkē or eke is a Tongan group dance performed with sticks which the performers hit against each other on the beat of the drum. It has some common elements with, but is a complete independent development from the English Morris dance. As with most Tongan dances, the whole performance is to dazzle the spectators and to please the chiefs. There is no hidden purpose.


, pronounced , is a Japanese term that means "the head family [house]." In the realm of Japanese traditional arts, it is used synonymously with the term iemoto. Thus, it is often used to indicate "headmaster" (or sometimes translated as "head of the family" or even " grand master".) The English translation of sōke as "grand master" is not a literal translation but it does see use by some Japanese sources. It can mean one who is the leader of any school or the master of a style, but it is most commonly used as a highest level Japanese title, referring to the singular leader of a school or style of martial art. The term, however, is not limited to the genre of martial arts.

Sōke is sometimes mistakenly believed to mean "founder of a style" because many modern sōke are the first generation headmasters of their art (shodai sōke), and are thus both sōke and founder. However, the successors to the shodai sōke are also sōke themselves. Sōke are generally considered the ultimate authority within their art, and have final discretion and authority regarding promotions, curriculum, doctrine, and disciplinary actions. A sōke has the authority to issue a menkyo kaiden certificate indicating that someone has mastered all aspects of his style.

In some schools such as Kashima-Shinryu there is a related position called meaning "Instructor Line" that fills a very similar role. A Shihanke is essentially a second training lineage that exists autonomously from the Sōke. In arts where there is a Shihanke and a Sōke it is possible for the position of Sōke to essentially be a hereditary honorary title in the Iemoto system while the Shihanke is responsible for the actual teaching and operation of the school

The widespread use of the term "sōke" is controversial in the martial arts community. Traditionally it was used very rarely in Japan, typically only for very old martial arts, although it has become a somewhat common term for headmasters of schools created in the last few decades that attempt to reconstruct or emulate older styles of martial arts. Some modern western sōke have used the title as a title for their assistant as the leader of their school. The Japanese characterdai used in this context translates as "in place of." Thus, a shihan-dai, sōke-dai, or sōke-dairi means "someone who teaches in temporary place of" the main instructor, for reasons such as the incapacity of the sōke due to injuries or illnesses.

Usage examples of "soke".

The rekin is the heart of the fess and the fess is the heart of the soke.

Shute and father said he was and the man said are you the man whitch put a old man on the trane at the depo and father said yes and i thougt the man wood give father a hundred dolars or a gold wach and father looked as if he thougt the man wood say noble man you have saved my fathers life, but the man looked mad and said well sir you did a prety smart thing to throw a helpless old man on to the rong trane and send him of 100 miles away from home and scart all his peeple most to deth becaus they thougt he was merdered and cost him 3 dolars to telegraf and stay all nite and if you dont know more then that you had beter soke your head.

The soueraigne weede betwixt two marbles plaineShe pownded small, and did in peeces bruze,And then atweene her lilly handes twaine,Into his wound the iuyce thereof did scruze,And round about, as she could well it vze,The flesh therewith she suppled and did steepe,T'abate all spasme, and soke the swelling bruze,And after hauing searcht the intuse deepe,She with her scarfe did bind the wound frõ cold to keepe.