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 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, by contrast, appeared on Fox News with Trump's favorite media figure, Sean Hannity, just as the impeachment trial was reaching the Senate and all but pledged his fealty to the White House. Chris Megerian, Anchorage Daily News, "Republicans who once scorned Trump rally to save his presidency," 2 Feb. 2020 On previous albums, Vampire Weekend repeatedly returned to the quandary of Koenig’s ethnic foundation and the source of his identity and moral fealty. Armond White, National Review, "Vampire Weekend Makes the Best Pop-Political Album of the Year," 10 Dec. 2019 In their fealty to Trump, many members of the House G.O.P. are entirely shameless and more than a bit bonkers. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "The House Republicans’ Slimy Defense of Donald Trump," 13 Dec. 2019 Tom’s useless nib of conscience, his wavering fealty to the big lie, and his undisciplined cowardice ruin the act. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "The Succession Kids Finally Master the Art of BS," 7 Oct. 2019 August Diehl plays Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian citizen drafted into wartime military service who refused to swear an oath of fealty to Adolf Hitler. Darren Franich, EW.com, "A Hidden Life is the full Terrence Malick experience, vital even when it's glacial: Review," 12 Dec. 2019 Mr Merz declared his fealty, and Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer will fight another day. The Economist, "Post-Merkel syndrome," 28 Nov. 2019 In essence, the stunt was a high-profile display of fealty to Trump, who measures loyalty by a willingness to commit acts of self-abasement on his behalf. Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker, "A Clarifying, Upending Week in the Impeachment Inquiry," 27 Oct. 2019 Throughout the primary, Ms Warren has signalled unwavering fealty to the Medicare for All proposal advanced by Senator Bernie Sanders, a fellow progressive. The Economist, "Why Elizabeth Warren remains vague on health care," 26 Sep. 2019

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

8 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fealty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fealty. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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How to pronounce fealty (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of fealty

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

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