1 a : the fidelity of a vassal or feudal tenant to his lord
b : the obligation of such fidelity
2 : intense fidelity
"The fealty of country music fans to their favorite stars is as strong as old-time religion." — Nicholas Dawidoff, The New Republic, 18 July 1994
"Mr. Keith was more of a rabble-rouser, from the contentiousness of his politics to the muscularity of his sound, but his fealty to tradition was never in doubt." — Jon Caramanica, The New York Times, 8 Oct. 2015
Did You Know?
In The Use of Law, published posthumously in 1629, Francis Bacon wrote, "Fealty is to take an oath upon a book, that he will be a faithful Tenant to the King." That's a pretty accurate summary of the early meaning of fealty. Early forms of the term were used in Middle English around 1300, when they specifically designated the loyalty of a vassal to a lord. Eventually, the meaning of the word broadened. Fealty can be paid to a country, a principle, or a leader of any kind—though the synonyms fidelity and loyalty are more commonly used. Fealty comes from the Anglo-French word feelté, or fealté, which comes from the Latin fidelitas, meaning "fidelity." These words are ultimately derived from fides, the Latin word for "faith."
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Word Family Quiz
Fill in the blanks to create a word related to Latin fides that refers to an act of disloyalty: p _ r _ i _ y.VIEW THE ANSWER