\ 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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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 At the moment, housing policy is primarily dictated by local jurisdictions that act like fiefs. New York Times, "Where America’s Fight for Housing Is an All-Out War," 14 Feb. 2020 The goal of the recent moves is to reduce the number of corporate fiefs and make the organization more efficient, said a senior Disney executive familiar with the company’s strategy. Joe Flint, WSJ, "Disney Strategy for Fox Assets Comes Into Focus as Executives Quit," 3 Feb. 2020 Ms Goldberg may have come to feel that the position carried too much of a managerial burden, but too little power to rule her fief. The Economist, "The Goldberg variations The World Bank loses another chief economist," 13 Feb. 2020 Bob Iger, who had to seek Mr. Lasseter’s approval before Disney could buy Pixar from Steve Jobs, split the Lasseter fief in two and named Pete Docter to run Pixar. New York Times, "Jennifer Lee, Queen of the ‘Frozen’ Franchise," 7 Nov. 2019 Labour, which used to regard Scotland as a fief, looks like being left with a single seat. The Economist, "Britain’s fraying union Brexit boosts Scottish nationalists," 13 Dec. 2019 On a practical level, the Border Patrol’s hubs along the Mexican border, known as sectors, operate in some ways as fiefs. New York Times, "‘People Actively Hate Us’: Inside the Border Patrol’s Morale Crisis," 15 Sep. 2019 Little wonder, then, that Facebook is bringing a dating service to the richest denizens of its internet fief. The Economist, "Facebook has unleashed a new dating service," 12 Sep. 2019 Those promises mean little if the funds are run like personal fiefs. The Economist, "Gulf states are becoming more adventurous investors," 14 June 2019

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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Time Traveler for fief

Time Traveler

The first known use of fief was circa 1611

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Statistics for fief

Last Updated

16 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fief.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for fief


How to pronounce fief (audio)

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 How to pronounce fief (audio) \

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fief

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fief Encyclopedia article about fief

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