feu·​dal·​ism | \ ˈfyü-də-ˌli-zəm How to pronounce feudalism (audio) \

Definition of feudalism

1 : the system of political organization prevailing in Europe from the 9th to about the 15th centuries having as its basis the relation of lord to vassal (see vassal sense 1) with all land held in fee (see fee sense 1) and as chief characteristics homage, the service of tenants under arms and in court, wardship (see wardship sense 1), and forfeiture (see forfeiture sense 1)
2 : any of various political or social systems similar to medieval feudalism

Other Words from feudalism

feudalist \ ˈfyü-​də-​list How to pronounce feudalism (audio) \ noun
feudalistic \ ˌfyü-​də-​ˈli-​stik How to pronounce feudalism (audio) \ adjective

Examples of feudalism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Capitalism, the scholar Cedric Robinson argues, was not a revolutionary departure from feudalism but an extension of it, a new permutation. Eula Biss, The New Yorker, 8 June 2022 The term—a modern-day twist on a phrase Communist revolutionaries used to refer to the evils of imperialism, feudalism and crony capitalism—has been invoked for years in China to describe the costs associated with housing, education and healthcare. Jonathan Cheng, WSJ, 3 Feb. 2022 For its part, Kering gets first look at a new crop of talent without the whiff of feudalism attached to a prize, as well as a bird’s-eye view on new ways of selling and communicating without any risk to its more boldface brands. New York Times, 16 Dec. 2021 Still later, as feudalism declined, the Catholic Church encouraged and enforced imprisonment for unpaid debts. Kristin Collier, Longreads, 1 Dec. 2021 The museum charts South Korea’s rise out of feudalism and colonialism into the democratic present. E. Tammy Kim, The New York Review of Books, 17 Dec. 2020 The setting is little more than an opportunity for Cannon, who wrote the Pitch Perfect movies and directed the uproariously sweet Blockers, to dole out easy criticisms of feudalism in the name of female agency. David Sims, The Atlantic, 1 Sep. 2021 People in the 21st century typically see feudalism as a bad thing and more importantly, something from the distant past. Roger Valdez, Forbes, 8 June 2021 After the Black Death came the erosion of feudalism. Jake Coyle, Star Tribune, 28 May 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of feudalism

1773, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of feudalism was in 1773

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Last Updated

22 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Feudalism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feudalism. Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for feudalism


feu·​dal·​ism | \ ˈfyü-də-ˌliz-əm How to pronounce feudalism (audio) \

Kids Definition of feudalism

: a social system existing in medieval Europe in which people worked and fought for nobles who gave them protection and land in return

More from Merriam-Webster on feudalism

Nglish: Translation of feudalism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of feudalism for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about feudalism


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