\ ˈfēf How to pronounce fief (audio) \

Definition of fief

1 : a feudal estate : fee
2 : something over which one has rights or exercises control a politician's fief

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In European feudalism, a fief was a source of income granted to a person (called a vassal) by his lord in exchange for his services. The fief usually consisted of land and the labor of peasants who were bound to cultivate it. The income it provided supported the vassal, who was obliged to fight for his lord as a knight.

Examples of fief in a Sentence

the logistics of the relief effort is the director's fief
Recent Examples on the Web In his own fief, the executive had become accustomed to torrid growth. Dana Mattioli, WSJ, 16 June 2022 Since gaining power in the Republika Srpska, Dodik, according to his critics, has turned the entity into a personal fief. New York Times, 14 June 2022 As the Tatmadaw began loosening control over the economy, engaging in a fire sale of assets that had once been the military’s fief, that elite class of the well-connected swooped in to profit. New York Times, 24 Dec. 2021 Paul is the heir to House Atreides, whose fief is the oceanic planet of Caladan, a stony, rainy, tumultuous world, limited in its purview and power. K. Austin Collins, Rolling Stone, 20 Oct. 2021 This was particularly so in Mazar-e-Sharif, which was governed as a personal fief by former mujahedeen commander Gen. Atta Mohammad Nooruntil his ouster by President Ashraf Ghani in 2017. Gordon Lubold, WSJ, 2 July 2021 But for nearly a half-century, the building and society have been the fief of an eminent physician named Dr. Kevin M. Cahill, his family and his friends. Dan Barry, New York Times, 13 Mar. 2021 Lulled by glamour and success, Real Madrid has allowed itself to be transformed into the personal fief of its president, Florentino Pérez. New York Times, 9 Apr. 2021 Their claim is based on possession of a fief—a right granted by a feudal overlord in exchange for allegiance or services. The Economist, 27 Mar. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of fief

circa 1611, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fief

French, from Old French — more at fee

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Last Updated

28 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Fief.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for fief


\ ˈfēf How to pronounce fief (audio) \

Kids Definition of fief

: an estate of land given to a vassal by a feudal lord

More from Merriam-Webster on fief Encyclopedia article about fief


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