\ 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

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 For years, top Time Warner Inc. executives talked about putting an end to the fiefs inside the entertainment conglomerate. Benjamin Mullin, WSJ, "It Was Once ‘Game of Thrones’ Inside Time Warner. AT&T Said, Enough.," 8 Mar. 2019 Or, more properly, what passed for the central management of the city’s pension funds, the Bureau of Asset Management. In reality, the pensions are five fiefs, run by union officials and city representatives. New York Times, "The Billion-Dollar Fiefs," 17 May 2018 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

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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Statistics for fief

Last Updated

18 Sep 2019

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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 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

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Comments on fief

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to make a temporary encampment

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