Definition of vassal
1 : a person under the protection of a feudal lord to whom he has vowed homage and fealty : a feudal tenant
2 : one in a subservient or subordinate position
Origin and Etymology of vassal
Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French, borrowed from Medieval Latin vassallus “serf of the manor house, household servant, lord's man who has received a fief,“ borrowed from Gaulish *wassall-, derivative of *wass- “servant” (whence Medieval Latin vassus “serf, servant, holder of a fief”), going back to Celtic *wosto-, whence Welsh gwas “boy, servant,” Middle Breton goas, Old Irish foss “servant, attendant” ◆Celtic *wasto- is generally taken to continue Indo-European *upo-sth2-o- “one who stands under,” which may be correct if Gaulish *wass- shares with British Celtic unrounding of o in this position.
First Known Use: 14th century
VASSAL Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of vassal for English Language Learners
: a person in the past who received protection and land from a lord in return for loyalty and service
VASSAL Defined for Kids
Definition of vassal for Students
: a person in the Middle Ages who received protection and land from a lord in return for loyalty and service
Seen and Heard
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