Serf vs. Surf

Photo of author


A serf is a person who is bound in feudal servitude. A serf does agricultural work on a lord’s estate. If the land is sold, the serf’s bondage is transferred to the new landowner. While not a slave, a serf is not free. Serfs existed during the Middle Ages, this feudal system is no longer in place. Today, the word serf is more often used to describe someone who is oppressed. Serf comes from the Old French word serf which means vassal, servant or slave, which is in turn derived from the Latin word servum, meaning slave. Related words are serfhood, serfdom, serfage.

Surf is the swell of the ocean, the breaking waves of the ocean. Surf may also be used as a verb to mean riding the waves of the ocean on a specially designed board, this is the sport known as surfing. Related words are surfs, surfed, surfing, surfer. Surf also means to ride something, and is used in terms such as windsurfing and crowd surfing. Surf is probably derived from the word suffe, a variation of sough, which means a rushing sound.


It does not mean Ukip voters are looking for a serf class, people to mop up the worst of the nation’s work without any of its protections. (The Guardian)

A serf is busy at the screen when approached by a management toad and tapped from behind on the shoulder. (The Saturday Paper)

Thanks To NDAA (And Other Laws), You May Now Be A Serf (The Business INsider)

And when he buys the land, Lopakhin, born a serf on the property, moves from the margin to the middle. (The San Diego Reader)

Just take a peek at how the Royal Courts of Europe worked; from serf to hand maiden wasn’t an easy leap, you had to screw someone metaphorically and literally to get up there. (The Huffington Post)

Organizers distributed 500 wristbands to people who wished to ride out and surf dressed as St. Nick. (Florida Today)

Fifteen windsurfers from Whanganui and Manawatu prayed to the winds and were answered on an epic 34km surf from Waitotara down to the Whanganui river mouth on Saturday afternoon. (The Wanganui Chronicle)

There was also a special pre-holiday moment when Joseph brought his future brother-in-law, who had accompanied his father to the show, on stage and then introduced a new “welcome to the family” ritual — having him crowd surf from the front to the back of the house, which was pulled off without a hitch. (The Macomb Daily)

Enjoyed reading about these homophones? Check out some others we covered: