feudalism

noun
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from feudalism

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

Examples of feudalism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Family farmers say concentrating farmland among a few big companies is akin to feudalism, and un-American. Alana Semuels / Fremont, Time, "'They're Trying to Wipe Us Off the Map.' Small American Farmers Are Nearing Extinction," 27 Nov. 2019 We’re over two decades into an era of digital feudalism. Don Tapscott, Quartz, "We’re living in an era of digital feudalism. Here’s how to take your data and identity back," 11 Sep. 2019 What better place to beta-test the future of digital feudalism? Gregory Barber, WIRED, "Inside an All-White Town’s Divisive Experiment With Cryptocurrency," 6 June 2019 In Europe, this started to change after the French Revolution, which abolished feudalism and serfdom. Robert Sullivan, Vogue, "What If There Were No Borders?," 30 Nov. 2018 To a largely illiterate society trying to overcome feudalism, these posters again give us insight into how the new Soviet government wanted to emphasize progress. Anne Tschida, miamiherald, "The Power of Propaganda," 22 June 2018 In 2017, a form of data feudalism governs the digital ecosystem: Private companies control and reap value from big data with few obligations to the very people who generate their most prized asset. Michelle De Mooy, Fortune, "Is Equifax Going to Be Punished for Losing Our Data?," 12 Sep. 2017 Marx saw socialism as a new mode of production that would follow capitalism the same way that capitalism had followed feudalism. John B. Judis, New Republic, "The Socialism America Needs Now," 24 Aug. 2017 In the space of a year, the state had abolished feudalism and adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizen, a constitution intended to protect French citizens' equality, freedom of speech, and political representation. Rachel Lewis, Time, "President Trump Is Visiting Paris on Bastille Day. Here's Why That Matters," 12 July 2017

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.

See More

First Known Use of feudalism

1773, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about feudalism

Time Traveler for feudalism

Time Traveler

The first known use of feudalism was in 1773

See more words from the same year

Statistics for feudalism

Last Updated

7 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Feudalism.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feudalist. Accessed 14 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for feudalism

feudalism

noun
How to pronounce feudalism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of feudalism

: a social system that existed in Europe during the Middle Ages in which people worked and fought for nobles who gave them protection and the use of land in return

feudalism

noun
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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on feudalism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with feudalism

Spanish Central: Translation of feudalism

Nglish: Translation of feudalism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of feudalism for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about feudalism

Comments on feudalism

What made you want to look up feudalism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to assail by words or arguments

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!