1. One who holds lands by a base, or servile, tenure, or in villenage; a feudal tenant of the lowest class, a bondman or servant. [In this sense written also villan, and villein] If any of my ansectors was a tenant, and a servant, and held his lands as a villain to his lord, his posterity also must do so, though accidentally they become noble. (Jer. Taylor)
Villains were of two sorts; villains regardant, that is, annexed to the manor (LL. Adscripti glebae); and villains in gross, that is, annexed to the person of their lord, and transferable from one to another.
3. A vile, wicked person; a man extremely depraved, and capable or guilty of great crimes; a deliberate scoundrel; a knave; a rascal; a scamp. Like a villain with a smiling cheek. (Shak) Calm, thinking villains, whom no faith could fix. (pope)
Origin: OE. Vilein, F. Vilain, LL. Villanus, from villa a village, L. Villa a farm. See Villa.