- Rhymes: -ɜː(ɹ)f
From Middle English erve, erfe, from Old English yrfe, ierfe (“heritage, bequest, inheritance, property, inherited property, property that passes to an heir, cattle, livestock”), from Proto-West Germanic *arbī, from Proto-Germanic *arbiją (“heritage”), from Proto-Indo-European *h₃erbʰ- (“to change ownership”) (whence also *h₃órbʰos (“orphan”)).
Cognate with Dutch erf (“inheritance, patrimony, ground, courtyard”), German Erbe (“heritage, legacy, inheritance”), Danish arv (“heritage, inheritance”), Swedish arv (“heritage, inheritance”), Gothic 𐌰𐍂𐌱𐌹 (arbi, “inheritance”), Latin orbus (“orphan”), Ancient Greek ὀρφανός (orphanós, “orphan”), Old English ierfa (“heir”). Related to orf and odal and athel.
erf (plural erfs)
- (Northern England, Scotland, rare) Inheritance; patrimony.
- Son, you will have this farm to erf.
- (by extension) Stock; cattle.
- (US regional, Cape Colony, New York, South Africa) A small inherited house-and-garden lot in a village or settlement.
- yard (open area adjoining and belonging to a house)
- (figuratively) heritage, patrimony
- (obsolete, law) hereditament, especially a plot of land
- Antonym: kateel
- (obsolete) inheritance
See the etymology of the main entry.
- Alternative form of