\ˈfēf \

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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Other Words from fief

fiefdom \ˈfēf-​dəm \ noun

Did You Know?

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

For much of its history, Warner Bros., HBO and Turner operated as individual fiefs that rarely worked together. Joe Flint, WSJ, "AT&T Streaming Video Service Is Set to Launch in 2019," 10 Oct. 2018 The corporate campuses of the Bay Area’s technology companies have become independent fiefs with dry cleaning, gyms, doctors, shuttle buses and bountiful free meals, made by the best chefs poached from the region’s famous restaurants. Nellie Bowles, The Seattle Times, "San Francisco officials to tech workers: Leave the office, buy your lunch," 31 July 2018 At the moment, 54 trustees are spread across these fiefs. New York Times, "The Billion-Dollar Fiefs," 17 May 2018 For years, Mamic ran the country’s soccer program as his own personal fief; in June, he was sentenced to six and a half years in prison for embezzlement and tax fraud. Rory Smith, New York Times, "Belgium’s Blueprint, Croatia’s Chaos, and the Murky Path to World Cup Glory," 10 July 2018 In corralling rival agencies into one holding company, WPP has allowed the agencies to operate as fiefs for years. Nick Kostov, WSJ, "WPP Faces Shareholder Backlash After Sorrell’s Departure," 13 June 2018 Perhaps renting is a prudent approach if the city must have five pension fiefs. New York Times, "Some Pension Funds Profit From New York Real Estate. Why Don’t the City’s?," 6 June 2018 Unlike some other cities going to the polls, Birmingham is not a Labour fief. The Economist, "Local elections may show a reconfiguration of British politics," 26 Apr. 2018 The uprising shattered Libya into a collection of fiefs ruled by militias. The Economist, "War-torn Libya plans an election," 5 Apr. 2018

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.

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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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Dictionary Entries near fief







field ambulance

Statistics for fief

Last Updated

27 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for fief

The first known use of fief was circa 1611

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English Language Learners Definition of fief

: a large area of land that was ruled over by a lord in medieval times : a feudal estate


\ˈfēf \

Kids Definition of fief

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on fief

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fief

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fief Encyclopedia article about fief

Comments on fief

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


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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