AskDefine | Define oppidan

User Contributed Dictionary



From oppidum, "town."


  1. Of or pertaining to a town or conurbation.
    ... calculating the portions of the population, which are purely oppidan, suburban and rural, separately, ...
    In terms of socio-economic impact, it appears that the water mill was an oppidan development in the Roman possessions, including Dacia.
    The beggar whom Elia encounters... is an oppidan caricature of the old man in “Witches” who was conjured up in the demonic vision, a dark, irrational double that overwhelms and destroys innocence.


  1. rare obsolete A town dweller.
    But money is all-potent, and wealthy oppidans soon found means to elbow the aristocracy in their choicest assemblies.
  2. A class of student in traditional English public schools such as Eton; opposed to colleger or King's Scholar.
    ... might conceivably imply that he did not live, as the custom had been for such boys, in the Abbot's own house, but lodged in the town of Winchester and perhaps attended the College as an oppidan, or townsman.

Extensive Definition

A King's Scholar is a scholar of Eton College, who has passed the College Election examination and is therefore admitted into a house, College, which is the oldest Eton house and comprised solely of King's Scholars. There are, at any one time, around 70 King's Scholars, and they are distinguished by the black gown which they wear. The other pupils at the school, more than 1200 of them, all boys, are known as Oppidans.
This gown is said to be the basis of the nickname "Tugs", from the Latin "gens togata", i.e. "toga'd people", although this particular slice of Eton argot has become less commonly heard in recent years.
As there are 70 King's Scholars, and they are in College for five years, approximately 14 are admitted per year (a "block" in Eton argot), and share every aspect of school life with the Oppidans (or Etonians who have entered Eton via Common Entrance), including lessons and school sport. They also have the privileged position of eating all their meals in College Hall, the old central hub of the school which has seen many distinguished diners in its long history including Elizabeth I. One other difference is that Collegers usually play the wall game in the winter term for the full five years, while Oppidans tend only to play it in their last year.
They also live in the central area of the school off School Yard, the fulcrum around which the school revolves, where both Eton College Chapel and Lupton's Tower are situated. The boarding house in which Collegers live includes New Buildings and Chamber. Chamber, the older section, includes rooms which look out onto School Yard, while New Buildings is on the reverse side and contains the majority of the boys' living spaces.
King's Scholars have the letters KS attached to their surnames in the school lists. Oppidans who have distinguished themselves academically are called Oppidan Scholars — they receive no financial benefit, but have OS attached to their surnames in the school lists.

King's Scholars at King's College Cambridge

The term King's Scholar is also used for those who obtain firsts at King's College Cambridge, who receive a small prize. This is a historical hang-over from scholarships endowed by the college's founder. (King's College Cambridge and Eton College were both founded by Henry VI, and are sister colleges.) At King's it is rumoured that the right to use K.S. after a name is a privilege of King's Scholars, but the legal status of this is not clear.
The term King's Scholar is also used for scholars at Kings School Canterbury.

Famous ex-King's Scholars

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