Middle English Dictionary Entry

tǒun n.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

(a) A populated area having some degree of local government and usu. fortifications or other means of local defense, a municipality, a town or city; also, a metropolis; (b) a small settlement, hamlet, or village [sometimes difficult to distinguish from (a) and vice versa, esp. in general and early references]; also, a district or suburb of a city; litel (smal) tounes; (c) used in contexts expressing general characteristics of a town: a sophisticated place; a source of markets; an area made suitable for human habitation; etc.; (d) in comb. with the names of specific towns: ~ of jerusalem (tire, etc.); london (rome, troie, etc.) ~; (e) in misc. cpds. & combs.: ~ brigge; ~ clerk, the recorder of a town corporation; ~ clerkshipe; ~ clokke; ~ cok; ~ diche; ~ ende, q.v.; ~ folk; ~ man, q.v.; ~ profite; ~ rolle, town records; ~ sides, the districts of a town; ~ song [glossing L comedia]; ~ water; tounes ende, the outskirts of a town; burgh ~, a fortified town or chartered borough [see also burgh n. 5.(f)]; castel ~, a walled town or city; also in fig. context [quot. a1450, which could also be construed as sense 3.]; chepinge ~, a market town; cite ~ [see cite n. 6.(a)]; clos ~, a walled city; haven ~, a seaport; also fig. [see also haven n.(1) 2.(a)]; maister ~, the most important town or city.
(a) A town or village perceived as a group of buildings, structures, etc.;—usu. in contexts involving burning or building; the buildings pertaining to a town or village; ~ of tounes, the physical entity Troy; (b) in related combs.: ~ ende, q.v.; ~ gate (gaiole, gerner, halle, milnes, wal, werkes).
A farm with its associated land and buildings; a manor, a villa, an estate; also fig. [quot. c1150]; also, an enclosed piece of land: a garden, farmyard, etc.; ~ cresse, q.v.; ~ lond, a division of a hundred representing one farm with its associated land and buildings; ~ merche, the plant alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum);— ?error for stan-merche n.; chirche ~, a churchyard.
The inhabitants of a town; a community; also, the government of a town [quot. a1382].
(a) In selected phrases: at ~, at the next town, at the edge of town; dai of ~ , a day's delay in a legal proceeding granted by a town council; fro (to) ~ to ~, from one town or place to another; from one place to the next, everywhere; in ~, in residence; also, in the world, anywhere; of ~, from town, urban; oute (of) ~, not in residence in a town; away from human society; in exile; to (the) ~ ward, in the direction of a (the) town; withouten (the) ~, outside the boundaries or wall of a town; in exile; comen (ben comen, ben icome) to ~, to arrive; also, come to any habitation [quot. a1500(a1400) Libeaus]; gon ~, go to (the) town; yede of ~, was passed; (b) in generalizing expressions: ~ and tour, tour and ~, all holdings or possessions, everything; all inhabited places; fortified places, all fortified places; all works of man [see also tour n.(1) 7.]; in ~ and feld, in ~ or strete, in eche a ~, in) feld and ~, in tour and ~, etc., everywhere; lord of tour and ~; on wodes and tounes.
In surnames and place names [see Smith PNElem.2.188-99].

Supplemental Materials (draft)

Note: '[tu]nes' at Lay. Brut 5976 represents the emendation or correction of a scribal reviser. See kive n. for one suggestion as to what the original reading may have been.