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

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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 Greig and Walter, stalwart veterans of British stage and screen, lead a compelling ensemble in a story that hinges on the rattling collision of dying feudalism against rising industrialization. Robyn Bahr, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Belgravia': TV Review," 10 Apr. 2020 Barber posited that classical liberalism’s single-minded emphasis on maximizing individual freedom was an extreme reaction to the oppressive restrictions on individual liberty under feudalism, a system the Swiss never directly experienced. Win Mccormack, The New Republic, "Civic Republicanism: Good for the Jews," 19 Mar. 2020 Brand Sussex represents the biggest threat to the monarchy so far MARX PREDICTED that capitalism would destroy every remnant of feudalism. The Economist, "Bagehot Harry, Meghan and Marx," 14 Jan. 2020 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

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.

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First Known Use of feudalism

1773, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for feudalism

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The first known use of feudalism was in 1773

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Statistics for feudalism

Last Updated

26 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Feudalism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feudalism. Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for feudalism


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


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

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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

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