AskDefine | Define burgess

Dictionary Definition



1 English writer of satirical novels (1917-1993) [syn: Anthony Burgess]
2 a citizen of an English borough [syn: burgher]

User Contributed Dictionary



Anglo-Norman burgeis, cognate with Old French borjois (modern bourgeois), from late Latin burgus ‘fort, fortified town’.


  • /'bɜ:ʤɪs/


  1. an inhabitant of a borough with full rights, a citizen
  2. a town magistrate

Extensive Definition

Burgess is an English word that originally meant a freeman of a borough or burgh. It later came to mean an elected or un-elected official of a municipality, or the representative of a borough in the English House of Commons.
The word is linguistically close to the French "Bourgeois", which evolved from the Old French word burgeis, meaning "an inhabitant of a town" (cf. Middle English burgeis, Middle Dutch burgher and German Bürger). The Old French word burgeis is derived from bourg, meaning a market town or medieval village, itself derived from Late Latin burgus, meaning "fortress" or "wall," the reference being to the merchant class which tended to set-up their store fronts along the outside of the medieval city wall, where traffic through the gates was an advantage and safety in event of an attack was easily accessible.

See also


burgess in German: Burgess
burgess in Japanese: バージェス
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