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[fee] /fi/
a charge or payment for professional services:
a doctor's fee.
a sum paid or charged for a privilege:
an admission fee.
a charge allowed by law for the service of a public officer.
  1. an estate of inheritance in land, either absolute and without limitation to any particular class of heirs (fee simple) or limited to a particular class of heirs (fee tail)
  2. an inheritable estate in land held of a feudal lord on condition of the performing of certain services.
  3. a territory held in fee.
a gratuity; tip.
verb (used with object), feed, feeing.
to give a fee to.
Chiefly Scot. to hire; employ.
Origin of fee
1250-1300; Middle English < Anglo-French; Old French fie, variant of fief fief. See feudal
Related forms
feeless, adjective
overfee, noun
superfee, noun
1. stipend, salary, emolument; honorarium. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for fee
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • To secure the fee of the land itself a second purchase was required.

    A short history of Rhode Island George Washington Greene
  • I will enclose the second payment of her fee in a letter which I am writing to her.

  • She gave him the letter, and a fee that made him stare, and was gone.

    A Changed Heart May Agnes Fleming
  • The doctor's fee is four and sixpence, and you need not consult him often.

    The Channings Mrs. Henry Wood
  • And then, at the first possible moment, we paid our fee, and went inside the tent to see the animals.

    Meadow Grass Alice Brown
British Dictionary definitions for fee


a payment asked by professional people or public servants for their services: a doctor's fee, school fees
a charge made for a privilege: an entrance fee
(property law)
  1. an interest in land capable of being inherited See fee simple, fee tail
  2. the land held in fee
(in feudal Europe) the land granted by a lord to his vassal
an obsolete word for a gratuity
in fee
  1. (law) (of land) in absolute ownership
  2. (archaic) in complete subjection
verb fees, feeing, feed
(rare) to give a fee to
(mainly Scot) to hire for a fee
Derived Forms
feeless, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Old French fie, of Germanic origin; see fief
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for fee

late 13c., from Old French fieu, fief "fief, possession, holding, domain; feudal duties, payment," from Medieval Latin feodum "land or other property whose use is granted in return for service," widely said to be from Frankish *fehu-od "payment-estate," or a similar Germanic compound, in which the first element is cognate with Old English feoh "money, movable property, cattle" (also German Vieh "cattle," Gothic faihu "money, fortune"), from PIE *peku- "cattle" (cf. Sanskrit pasu, Lithuanian pekus "cattle;" Latin pecu "cattle," pecunia "money, property"); second element similar to Old English ead "wealth."

OED rejects this, and suggests a simple adaptation of Germanic fehu, leaving the Medieval Latin -d- unexplained. Sense of "payment for services" first recorded late 14c. Fee-simple is "absolute ownership," as opposed to fee-tail "entailed ownership," inheritance limited to some particular class of heirs (second element from Old French taillir "to cut, to limit").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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