\ˈfēf \

Definition of fief 

1 : a feudal estate : fee

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

Keep scrolling for more

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 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 Since the death of Col. Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, warring factions have carved Libya into fiefs and fought over its oil fields, leaving the economy in tatters. Benoit Faucon, WSJ, "In Libya, Islamic State Seeks Revival in Gateway to Europe," 17 Sep. 2017 But what’s more likely to secure victory for her and dozens of other candidates in Sunday’s congressional election is their membership in rural family clans that have for decades run home districts like fiefs. John Otis, WSJ, "Jobs, Cash and Coffins: How Colombia’s Clans Win Elections," 9 Mar. 2018 Essentially, Kennedy is a necklace of terminals, each one its own fief that handles major elements of air travel independently of the others. Michael Wilson And Patrick Mcgeehan, New York Times, "At J.F.K. Airport, the Planes Just Wouldn’t Stop Coming," 8 Jan. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about fief

Dictionary Entries near fief







field ambulance

Statistics for fief

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fief

The first known use of fief was circa 1611

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for fief



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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on fief

See 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).


lying above or upon

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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