fe·​al·​ty | \ˈfē(-ə)l-tē \
plural fealties

Definition of fealty 

1a : the fidelity of a vassal or feudal tenant to his lord

b : the obligation of such fidelity The vassal vowed fealty to the king.

2 : intense fidelity the fealty of country music fans to their favorite stars— Nicholas Dawidoff

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Choose the Right Synonym for fealty

fidelity, allegiance, fealty, loyalty, devotion, piety mean faithfulness to something to which one is bound by pledge or duty. fidelity implies strict and continuing faithfulness to an obligation, trust, or duty. marital fidelity allegiance suggests an adherence like that of citizens to their country. pledging allegiance fealty implies a fidelity acknowledged by the individual and as compelling as a sworn vow. fealty to the truth loyalty implies a faithfulness that is steadfast in the face of any temptation to renounce, desert, or betray. valued the loyalty of his friends devotion stresses zeal and service amounting to self-dedication. a painter's devotion to her art piety stresses fidelity to obligations regarded as natural and fundamental. filial piety

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."

Examples of fealty in a Sentence

He swore fealty to the king. as much as I wanted to back my friend up, my fealty to the truth was greater, and I could not lie for him

Recent Examples on the Web

Here, a psychopath on the lam (William Talman) holds hostage two buddies, O’Brien and Frank Lovejoy, who must weigh their fealty to each other against survival. David Mermelstein, WSJ, "Celebrating a Film Pioneer at 100," 6 Nov. 2018 Almost immediately, everyone from Roxane Gay to Monica Lewinsky tweeted her fealty with the hashtag #IStandWithTheWing. Chloe Malle, Vogue, "Imperial Pink? The Wing Gears Up to Go Global," 8 Aug. 2018 The government exists under God’s authority and is subject to God’s moral law and is not entitled to our unquestioned fealty. Ed Stetzer, Vox, "Fellow evangelicals: stop falling for Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric," 6 Nov. 2018 But there’s also the issue of Sessions’s fealty to red states. Cristian Farias, Daily Intelligencer, "On Obamacare, the Department of Justice Is Standing Against the Rule of Law," 8 June 2018 Several employees and acquaintances have been brutally beaten by government thugs, while others have been abducted and tortured for refusing to pay fealty to the Sandinista party leadership. Margarita Herdocia, Time, "Nicaragua Is Heading Down the Same Dark Path as Venezuela," 13 June 2018 Critics would argue against fealty to the president. Chad Pergram, Fox News, "A User's Manual: What to expect on immigration, border security this week in the House," 18 June 2018 How did the ivied walls get so poisoned by anti-intellectual fealty to progressivism? WSJ, "The Doublespeak on Innate Sex Differences," 25 June 2018 Natoolo credits her fealty to academics to her father. Ben Brazil, latimes.com, "Foreign-born students traverse borders and obstacles before graduating from UC Irvine," 22 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fealty.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of fealty

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for fealty

Middle English feute, fealtye, borrowed from Anglo-French feelté, fealté, going back to Latin fidēlitāt-, fidēlitās "faithfulness, loyalty" — more at fidelity

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Dictionary Entries near fealty



feal and divot



Fear, Cape


Statistics for fealty

Last Updated

29 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for fealty

The first known use of fealty was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of fealty

: loyalty to a person, group, etc.

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to enclose within walls

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