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The word rōnin literally means "wave man". The term originated in 8th century Japan, when it referred to a serf who had departed his master's land. It then came to be used for a samurai who had no master, (Hence, the term "wave man" illustrating one who is socially adrift).


A rōnin was a samurai with no lord or master during the feudal period (1185-1868) of Japan.  A samurai became masterless from the death or fall of his master, or after the loss of his master's favour or privilege.  In modern Japanese usage, the term also describes a "salary man" who is between employers or a secondary school graduate who has not yet been admitted to university.

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