1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Peasant
PEASANT (O. Fr. paysant, Mod. paysan; Lat. pagenszs, 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 Alloments and Metayage).