fe·​al·​ty | \ ˈfē(-ə)l-tē How to pronounce fealty (audio) \
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 Like Porter, many hold no fealty to the expectations placed on new members, such as respecting seniority and waiting your turn. Jennifer Haberkorn, Los Angeles Times, "Democrats loved Katie Porter when she bashed Trump. Now she is making them squirm," 16 Mar. 2021 In those days, the son nurtured his ego through zealous service to his father, but Mario saw that fealty as a flaw. Dan Zak, Washington Post, "The father, the son and the holy Cuomo mess," 17 Mar. 2021 The funding and the organizational structure of this effort is not clear, although the messages show a fealty to Trump and opposition to Democrats. Will Weissert, Star Tribune, "From vote to virus, misinformation campaign targets Latinos," 7 Mar. 2021 The funding and the organizational structure of this effort is not clear, although the messages show a fealty to Trump and opposition to Democrats. Will Weissert, Chron, "From vote to virus, misinformation campaign targets Latinos," 7 Mar. 2021 Trump’s dual acquittals have been seen as a product of the Republican Party’s obsequious fealty to him. Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker, "Why Impeachment Doesn’t Work," 22 Feb. 2021 Recently, Langella got on the phone to discuss the thrill of playing a figure whose fealty to systemic corruption has scary resonance in today’s volatile political climate. Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times, "Frank Langella feels the power — and its abuse — in playing the ‘Chicago 7' judge," 21 Feb. 2021 Perhaps most notably, the Sunshine State’s governor showed absolute fealty to Trump throughout the pandemic’s many waves. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Andrew Cuomo Wishes He Were Ron DeSantis," 17 Feb. 2021 The requests came from the White House’s Presidential Personnel Office, whose 30-year-old director, John McEntee, has recently intensified efforts to purge appointees who have failed to demonstrate sufficient fealty to the president. Washington Post, "Two senior Homeland Security officials forced out as White House firings widen," 13 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for fealty

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

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Last Updated

11 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fealty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fealty. Accessed 15 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for fealty



English Language Learners Definition of fealty

old-fashioned + literary : loyalty to a person, group, etc.

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