vassal

noun
vas·​sal | \ ˈva-səl How to pronounce vassal (audio) \

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

Other Words from vassal

vassal adjective

Examples of vassal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Ukraine wants to integrate with NATO and the EU, but Mr. Putin has made bringing the former vassal state back under Moscow’s control a central aim of his two-decade rule. Ann M. Simmons, WSJ, 17 Dec. 2021 In a treatise in July, Putin accused Ukraine of becoming a vassal state manipulated and controlled by the West to undermine Moscow. Washington Post, 10 Dec. 2021 Once a Chinese tributary, the kingdom became a vassal state of Japan in 1609. Amelia Lester, The New York Review of Books, 17 Dec. 2020 Once a Chinese tributary, the kingdom became a vassal state of Japan in 1609. Amelia Lester, The New York Review of Books, 17 Dec. 2020 Once a Chinese tributary, the kingdom became a vassal state of Japan in 1609. Amelia Lester, The New York Review of Books, 17 Dec. 2020 But Ellwood is inclined to think that Moscow is planning a rerun of Putin’s previous efforts to carve political satellites out of former Soviet vassal states — such as the Crimea crisis and the 2008 intervention in Georgia. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, 21 Apr. 2021 Brexit was the culmination of the growing realization that Britain was becoming a vassal state to the ever-expanding and intrusive, both geographically and politically, European Union superstate. New York Times, 2 Apr. 2021 Putin resents the fact that NATO expanded to allow former Soviet vassal states into the transatlantic alliance, but the Central and Eastern European nations regard the security pact as a bulwark against a potential Russian invasion. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, 18 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vassal.' 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 vassal

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for 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"

Note: 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.

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Time Traveler for vassal

Time Traveler

The first known use of vassal was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near vassal

vasovagal

vassal

vassalage

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Statistics for vassal

Last Updated

21 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Vassal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vassal. Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for vassal

vassal

noun

English Language Learners Definition of vassal

: a person in the past who received protection and land from a lord in return for loyalty and service

vassal

noun
vas·​sal | \ ˈva-səl How to pronounce vassal (audio) \

Kids Definition of vassal

: a person in the Middle Ages who received protection and land from a lord in return for loyalty and service

More from Merriam-Webster on vassal

Nglish: Translation of vassal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of vassal for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about vassal

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