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From Middle English socne ‎(district held by a socage) (compare from Medieval Latin (Anglo-Latin) sōca ‎(right of jurisdiction), see soke), from Old English sōcn ‎(jurisdiction, prosecution, soke, literally act of seeking), from Proto-Germanic *sōknō ‎(seeking, inquiry), from Proto-Indo-European *sāg(')- ‎(to track). Akin to Gothic 𐍃𐍉𐌺𐌽𐍃 ‎(sokns, controversy), Old English sacu ‎(legal case, dispute), sēcan ‎(to seek). More at sake, seek, soke.


soken ‎(plural sokens)

  1. The ancient right (usually conferred by royalty) to hold a local court of justice and levy specific fees and fines. A 'soke' or 'soken' was the area over which this right was established. More specifically, the 'resort' (right) of specific farmers to have their grain ground at a specific mill or, inversely, the right of a mill to that custom. Also, specifically, a right of prosecution and judgement. Older meanings include a place that is regularly frequented. The word 'soken' is used in Stow (1598) in a way that implies regular usage / clear meaning, e.g. with reference to Portsoken Ward, outside the walls of the City of London which originated as a 'liberty' (a practically synonymous term) for a guild of knights.


  • Webster's Dictionary
  • Oxford English Dictionary
  • Stow's Survey of London

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