Thane (?), n. [OE. thein, dein, AS. degen, degn; akin to OHG. degan a follower, warrior, boy, MHG. degen a hero, G. degen hero, soldier, Icel. degn a thane, a freeman; probably akin to Gr. a child, to bear, beget, or perhaps to Goth. dius servant, AS. deon, G. dienen to serve.]
A dignitary under the Anglo-Saxons and Danes in England. Of these there were two orders, the king's thanes, who attended the kings in their courts and held lands immediately of them, and the ordinary thanes, who were lords of manors and who had particular jurisdiction within their limits. After the Conquest, this title was disused, and baron took its place.
Among the ancient Scots, thane was a title of honor, which seems gradually to have declined in its significance.
© Webster 1913.