Geoffrey Chaucer`s Canterbury Tales features several characters described as Yeoman, shedding light on the nature of Yeoman in the late 14th century when the work was written. You did Yeoman`s work by meticulously assembling all the different uses and definitions of “Yeoman`s work.” The reference to “the work of a Yeoman” in point 3 above is in support of an already vague definition: “one who renders great and loyal services”. Add to that the definition of “yeomanly” as “in a manner worthy of a Yeoman: BRAVE.” This and “Yeoman of the Guard” suggest that the primary meaning of “Yeoman” is a ceremonial royal servant rather than a farm laborer, which tends to further obscure what is meant by “Yeoman`s work.” Chaucer`s description of the Yeoman has been interpreted as an iconographic representation of the conscientious, diligent and always ready to serve servant. : 391 In other words, the image of the Yeoman service. First of all, most people don`t know what a Yeoman is. In fact, its use seems to be limited to forming half of the term “Yeoman`s work.” And a Google search for “Yeoman`s work” returns only 144,000 results, suggesting the term is barely used. For these reasons alone, the term is probably of a bad help for the mediation of meaning. To make matters worse, Merriam-Webster doesn`t even have a definition of “Yeoman`s work.” Instead, we must look for clues about its meaning in its definition of “Yeoman,” as follows: This review of Yeoman freeholders is divided into three periods: (a) to 1500; (b) between 1500 and 1600; and (c) between 1600 and 1800. This division roughly corresponds to the historical changes experienced by the free landlords themselves, as well as to the changing contemporary social hierarchies in which they lived. It is also affected by the availability of sources for each period. The most famous ballads concerned the outlaw Yeoman Robyn Hode (Robin Hood, in modern spelling).
A J Pollard, in his book Imagining Robin Hood: The Late Medieval Stories in Historical Context,:x, suggested that the first Robin Hood was literary fiction of the 15th and early 16th centuries. This does not mean that Pollard claims that Robin Hood was not historical. He believes that what modern popular culture thinks it knows about Robin is actually based on how previous generations have seen him over the past 500 years. The historical Robyn Hode was (or perhaps was several men whose exploits were merged into a single individual ballads) is of secondary importance to subsequent generations for its cultural symbolism. In his review of Pollard`s book, Thomas Ohlgren, one of the editors of the Robin Hood Project at the University of Rochester, agreed with this assessment. Since A Gest of Robyn Hode is a collective reminder of a fictional past of the 16th century, it can also be seen as a reflection of the century in which it was written. Following in the footsteps of Pollard and Ohlgren, this section examines some of the literature written in Late Middle English and Early Modern English to examine how historical Yeoman was slowly transformed into a legend for their own time by subsequent generations. The meaning – but not the use – of the expression is found in the Gest of Robyn Hode, dated around 1500. In First Fitte (first part of the ballad), Robin gives money to a poor knight to pay his debt to the abbot of St.
Mary`s Abbey. When Robin noticed that the knight was traveling alone, he offered him Little John`s service as Yeoman. In the general prologue, Chaucer describes The Yeoman as the only servant the knight wanted for the pilgrimage. From the way he was dressed, Chaucer assumes he is a forester. The man wears a green tunic and a hood. His hair is well cut, his face is brown and patinated, and his horn is curled by a green bald head. The Yeoman is well armed. He carries a “mighty bow” in his hand, on whose belt hangs a sheaf full of arrows. Chaucer points out that the peacock feather was well made.
The archer was obviously very careful in making his arrows. He also carries a sword, a buckle and a small dagger. (Note the similarity between the décor of this Yeoman and those of the Yeomen of the royal crown.) The last protection of the forester is a medal of Saint Christopher, the patron saint of travelers. : lines 101-17 Just a short continuation of my own contribution. If you Google “Yeoman-type performance” or “Yeoman-type effort”, you will get more than 175,000,000 results, many of which are related to sports. I agree that lawyers should choose precision over colorful language, but I stumbled upon your page by chance from a search engine and for everyday communication, this is a completely normal and relatively common phrase. On your blog, you glossed over the fact that your dictionary contains a definition of this term (gloss 3 by Yeoman IS the definition) which, by definition (excuse my pun), makes it suitable for use. In the early 15th century, Yeoman was the rank of chivalry between page and squire. In the late 17th century, Yeoman became a rank in the new Royal Navy for ordinary sailors responsible for supplying ships such as food, gunpowder and sails. Yeoman service (also Yeoman`s service) is a phrase that means “good, efficient and useful service” in all areas.
 It has the connotations of the work done by a faithful servant of the lower ranks who does everything to do the work.  The first monolingual dictionary of the English language, Robert Cawdrey`s Table Alphabeticall, was published in 1604. According to the subtitle, the dictionary contained only unusual English words and words borrowed from foreign languages such as Hebrew, Greek, Latin or French. Yeoman is not included in this dictionary. This suggests that Yeoman was a very commonly used English word in 1604. A more complete or general dictionary was published in 1658. Edward Phillips` The New World of English Words contained basic definitions.  Yeoman is included; probably for the first time in an English-language dictionary. But only one legal definition was given: (1) a social class immediately below a gentleman; and (2) a man born free who can sell “his own free land as an annual income up to 40 shillings sterling.”  The fact that only the legal definition (introduced in the 1430 Act) was given is another indication that Yeoman was a common word at the time. I think you are absolutely right about the reference to archery. In the Middle Ages, England`s victorious army depended heavily on Yeoman archers.
that is, small free peasants who were extremely skilled and skillful with the English longbow. Doing Yeoman`s work then means doing necessary, important and highly skilled work. Not on the farm, but on the battlefield. This also explains why “yeomanly” means “brave”. Thank you, Al, for coming to defend our language and culture. You did Yeoman`s job! An ancient historical significance that seems to have disappeared before our modern times is “something that belongs to or is characteristic of a Yeoman,” such as language or clothing.  Perhaps the best way to illustrate this meaning is to quote briefly from one of the first ballads in Middle English. Robin Hood and the Potter is preserved as a manuscript from about 1500.  Robin demands a penny from the Potter, for which the traveler could then continue unscathed by the outlaw. The Potter refuses to pay. A fight ensues, in which the Potter defeats Robin. The Potter then wants to know who he hit.
After hearing Robin`s name, the Potter responds (modern translation of the glossary notes):: lines 85-89 “Yeoman`s work” is a term at the extreme limit of utility in our lexicon. The term usually refers to a simple and honest type of work. So we have to ask ourselves, why say “Yeoman`s work” and not just “simple and honest work” or “hard work” or whatever words express the real meaning you want to convey? For the reasons I explain below, “Yeoman`s work” is probably not a clear or useful phrase and should therefore be avoided. Hamlet notes that he “wrote it fairly,” that is, in elegant and noble prose; A style of writing that he tried a lot to forget. But in composing the false commission, Hamlet had to resort to “this learning.” He told Horatio that “it did me a favor in Yeoman,” that is, his erudition was beneficial. Standing in good condition is another phrase that has a very similar meaning to the Yeoman service.  Note that it was used in the third line of the Gest stanza by Robyn Hode, quoted in the paragraph above. How often do you use the term “Yeoman” differently than in the expression in question? If, like the rest of the population, this is never the case, then I maintain that you do not use any expression, but rather a neologism: Yeomanswork.
This excellent basic information leaves this reader even more uncomfortable when he easily picks up a term with not one, but two (and perhaps more) sentences of heavy historical baggage. What connotation could the reader capture? As you rightly point out, mere hard work is not the desired effect. But while some Yeoman have made sacrifices by volunteering to fight, does military service have the desired connotation? Unlikely. What about volunteering? Almost. You mentioned that Yeomen could be understood as associated with citizenship, but that could cause the word to mean anything when we try to figure out if it means something specific. The term Yeoman`s ministry is used by William Shakespeare in Hamlet (published in 1601). In the fifth act, scene II, Hamlet tells Horatio how he discovered the king`s conspiracy against himself in a commission (document). Hamlet then says that he replaced the original with an order he wrote himself: Harken, good Yeomen, kind, polite and good, one of the best to bow, His name was Robin Hood.