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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Thegn \Thegn\, n. Thane. See Thane.
--E. A. Freeman.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"military tenant of an Anglo-Saxon king," 1848, a modern revival of an Old English form; see thane.


n. (alternative spelling of thane English)


The term thegn (thane or thayn in Shakespearean English), from Old Englishþegn, ðegn, "servant, attendant, retainer", "one who serves", is commonly used to describe either an aristocratic retainer of a king or nobleman in Anglo-Saxon England, or, as a class term, the majority of the aristocracy below the ranks of ealdormen and high-reeves. It is also the term for an early medieval Scandinavian class of retainers.

Usage examples of "thegn".

Obviously an atheling should be better mounted than his thegn, although by then he knew enough not to put his grievance in those terms.

Around the edges of the plaza, a forest of hats, hoods, and umbrellas covered ceorls and loetu and also many women and children, no doubt families of thegns.

King Hlothere of Kent, that a young man called Imma, claiming to have been once a thegn of hers at York, was requesting ransom money in her name to free him from slavery.

Still, it was only a few moments before all the machicolations were open and Alengwyned and his thegns could look straight down at the combatants on the parapet, and could likewise observe the stairs inside the tower, by which their compeers were still tramping up to join them.

A few months ago he gambled by challenging the tanist, who had grown too cautious for the younger thegns.

Any thegn may challenge the tanist, but only the tanist may challenge the earl.

Uncle Cynewulf, the tanist, lived in the largest with Cousin Wulfwer and a varying succession of women, and others nearby were occupied by Chancellor Ceolmund, Marshal Leofric, and numerous house thegns.

That was illusion, because ahead stood Cynehof, where a king who had clearly outstayed his welcome crouched in his web--a king with unscrupulous house thegns, with dark unspoken ways of averting rivals, with a tanist who never had to face a challenge.

King Athelstan glanced occasionally to the hundreds of ealdormen, thegns and royal emissaries of many nationalities who came to pledge their loyalty to him at the beginning of his reign.

One good thing was that when I had a son, who is your father, he was selected to learn stonecutting and castle-building, and thus he is now as important as a man can be who is not one of the thegns.

He had created thegnships for his white Welshmen and given his thegns the power of life and death over the natives in the provinces.

She fingered her rosary and stared into the bed of gillyflowers, certain the thegn was up to no good.

Between the vassals and their prince there stood no barons, no thegns, no ministers, no magistrates, no channel for handing down authority.

Euchee interpreters and hand-signing, Madoc and his thegns were led up through the city to a vast plaza, wherein stood one pyramid the size of a hill, and lesser ones twenty or thirty feet high.

There are too many unhappy spirits in this valley who have been made that way by the thegns of Alengwyned.