under vassal


(in the feudal system) a person granted the use of land, in return for rendering homage, fealty, and usually military service or its equivalent to a lord or other superior; feudal tenant.
a person holding some similar relation to a superior; a subject, subordinate, follower, or retainer.
a servant or slave.
of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a vassal.
having the status or position of a vassal.

1300–50; Middle English < Middle French < Medieval Latin vassallus, equivalent to vass(us) servant (< Celtic; compare Welsh gwas young man, Irish foss servant) + -allus noun suffix

vassalless, adjective
nonvassal, noun
subvassal, noun
undervassal, noun

vassal, vessel.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
vassal (ˈvæsəl)
1.  (in feudal society) a man who entered into a personal relationship with a lord to whom he paid homage and fealty in return for protection and often a fief. A great vassal was in vassalage to a king and a rear vassal to a great vassal
2.  a.  a person, nation, etc, in a subordinate, suppliant, or dependent position relative to another
 b.  (as modifier): vassal status
3.  of or relating to a vassal
[C14: via Old French from Medieval Latin vassallus, from vassus servant, of Celtic origin; compare Welsh gwas boy, Old Irish foss servant]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

c.1300 (implied in vassalage) "tenant who pledges fealty to a lord," from O.Fr. vassal, from M.L. vassallus "manservant, domestic, retainer," from vassus "servant," from O.Celt. *wasso- "young man, squire" (cf. Welsh gwas "youth, servant," Bret. goaz "servant, vassal, man," Ir. foss "servant"). The adj.
is recorded from 1593.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

vassal definition

Under feudalism, a subordinate who placed himself in service to a lord in return for the lord's protection.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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