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Old 09-24-2013, 02:14 AM
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How much work does a yeoman do?

Every blue moon I see the phrase, "[so-and-so] did yeoman's work." I'm not sure I'm asking the right question- maybe it is a type of work? Or... something I don't understand because I am not familiar with a single yeoman?

What is the story behind working yeomen and their place in idiom?
Old 09-24-2013, 02:52 AM
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A yeoman was a farmer who owned his own land (as opposed to working on some lord's land). So as a pre-industrial agricultural worker and an independent businessman, you have to figure he worked very hard indeed.

Last edited by Little Nemo; 09-24-2013 at 02:52 AM.
Old 09-24-2013, 02:53 AM
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A "yeoman" was a hard working peasant farmer. To do yeoman's work therefore just means to do a lot of hard, and often tedious and unappreciated work. It isn't a specific unit of work.

For example, if you have a thousand flyers you want to mail out, and one guy folds all of the flyers, stuffs them in the envelope, puts the stamps on them, etc. and basically does all of the grunt work involved, he could be said to have done the yeoman's work in getting the flyers out (especially if the guy who wrote the flyer gets all of the credit for it and the guy doing all the grunt work stuffing the envelope gets none).

A yeoman is also a type of enlisted man in the U.S. Navy. They do a lot of clerical and administrative work, which again is a lot of hard work that most people take for granted and do not appreciate.
Old 09-24-2013, 12:41 PM
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I thought a yeoman was one of those guys with the red shirts on Star Trek.
Old 09-24-2013, 12:49 PM
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Yeoman Rand flirted a lot with Kirk. Keeping Kirk satisfied was hard work but somebody had to do it.

Last edited by aceplace57; 09-24-2013 at 12:50 PM.
Old 09-24-2013, 01:00 PM
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Seriously, yeoman is an an officer in the U.S. Navy who works as a clerk. They start as a E-1 yeoman seaman recruit and the highest rank is an E-9 Master Chief Yeoman.
http://merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yeoman

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeoman_...States_Navy%29

Last edited by aceplace57; 09-24-2013 at 01:05 PM.
Old 09-24-2013, 01:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
Seriously, yeoman is an an officer in the U.S. Navy who works as a clerk.
http://merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yeoman
[nitpic]In the modern parlance, a yeoman is a petty officer in a military navy who does administrative duties. Enlisted, not commissioned. Seriously.[/nicpic]

I've known yeomen in the course of my military career. If I were to characterise the phrase "yeoman's work" by their example, I'd assume you were desparaging the subject's work ethic or attention to detail. Unless you were talking about making the office coffee. That was some good coffee.

(I'm sure there are competent and consciencous yeoman ratings out there; I just never ran into them in my Air Force career.)

The cited Merriam-Webster definition seems to favor an association between its definition 1 ("an attendant or assistant in a royal or noble house") and "yeoman work", defining the latter in terms of "great and loyal service".

This article pooh-poohs this assertion and cites a body of (mostly American) legal and published quotes that demonstrates that "yeoman's work" is hard work... like a peasant freeholding farmer would do, if he didn't want to starve to death after paying his taxes.
Old 09-24-2013, 03:44 PM
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I am much more familiar with the expression "yeoman service" rather than "yeoman's work". "Yeoman service", I think, implies doing a lot of tedious but useful and much appreciated work. It may not be physically hard work, but it a lot of work, probably dull and repetitive, and the speaker who uses the expression is acknowledging their appreciation of what the "yeoman" has done.
Old 09-24-2013, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by gnoitall View Post
I've known yeomen in the course of my military career. If I were to characterise the phrase "yeoman's work" by their example, I'd assume you were desparaging the subject's work ethic or attention to detail.
I wouldn't voice that opinion anywhere near the Yeomen Warders or the Yeomen of the Guard.
Old 09-24-2013, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
Yeoman Rand flirted a lot with Kirk. Keeping Kirk satisfied was hard work but somebody had to do it.
Yes Yes she did and I, belatedly, thank her for it

Capt
Old 05-03-2017, 03:14 PM
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Bumped.

Yeomen are also Oberlin College athletes (the college's motto is "Learning and Labor"): http://goyeo.com/
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