A sizar formerly referred to students of limited means at the universities of Cambridge and Trinity College, Dublin, who were charged lower fees and obtained free food and/or lodging and other assistance during their period of study.

According to "Alumni Dublinenses", [Alumni Dublinenses, Dublin, Alex. Thom & Co. Ltd., 2 Crown Street, 1935] most students entered college as Pensioners. In other words, they paid a fixed sum annually. The other two categories were: Sizar and Fellow Commoners ("Socii Comitates"). Sizars were "allowed free education in consideration of performing certain, at one time menial, duties"; Fellow Commoners paid double fees and enjoyed several privileges, including that of finishing the College course in three years instead of four. "Sizars were sons of poor parents, frequently the clergy."

The word "sizar" is thought to derive from the "sizes" or "sizings" (in turn a shortened form of "assize") which were the specified portions of food and drink made available at a fixed price at the college. One of the sizar's duties was to fetch the "sizes" for his colleagues.

The word sizarship is still used to refer to monetary awards made to members of a student body willing to take on defined jobs with responsibility. According to John Stillwell, "Sizars had to earn their keep as servants to the wealthier students [...] ". [cite book
editor=S. Axler, F. W. Gehring, K. A. Ribet (editors)
title=Mathematics and Its History
edition=2nd edition
series=Undergraduate Texts in Mathematics
publisher=Springer-Verlag New York
location=New York
chapter=Calculus [sub-chapter 9.7 Biographical Notes: Wallis, Newton, and Leibniz]
quote=Sizars had to earn their keep as servants to wealthier students [...]


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  • Sizar — Si zar, n. One of a body of students in the universities of Cambridge (Eng.) and Dublin, who, having passed a certain examination, are exempted from paying college fees and charges. A sizar corresponded to a servitor at Oxford. [1913 Webster] The …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sizar — [sī′zər] n. [< SIZE1 (sense 6) + AR] a student receiving a scholarship allowance at Trinity College, Dublin, or at Cambridge University: also, earlier, sizer …   English World dictionary

  • sizar — Batteler Bat tel*er, Battler Bat tler, n. [See 2d {Battel}, n.] A student at Oxford who is supplied with provisions from the buttery; formerly, one who paid for nothing but what he called for, answering nearly to a {sizar} at Cambridge. Wright.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sizar — Famulist Fam u*list, n. [L. famulus servant.] A collegian of inferior rank or position, corresponding to the {sizar} at Cambridge. [Oxford Univ., Eng.] [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • sizar — also sizer noun Etymology: sizar alteration of sizer, from 1size Date: 1588 a student (as in the university of Cambridge) who receives an allowance toward college expenses and who originally acted as a servant to other students in return for this …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • sizar — sizarship, n. /suy zeuhr/, n. (at Cambridge University and at Trinity College, Dublin) an undergraduate who receives maintenance aid from the college. Also, sizer. [1580 90; SIZE1 + AR3] * * * …   Universalium

  • sizar — noun a) At certain universities, e.g. Cambridge and Dublin, a student who receives an allowance for his college expenses (study grant); originally in return for serving other (paying) students. b) sister …   Wiktionary

  • SIZAR —    a poor student at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, so called from the size or allowance of food they were recipients of out of the college buttery …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • sizar — [ sʌɪzə] noun an undergraduate at Cambridge University or at Trinity College, Dublin, receiving financial help from the college and formerly having certain menial duties. Derivatives sizarship noun Origin C16: from obs. size ration of bread, beer …   English new terms dictionary

  • sizar — siz·ar …   English syllables

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