vassal

vassal

[vas-uhl]
noun
1.
(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.
2.
a person holding some similar relation to a superior; a subject, subordinate, follower, or retainer.
3.
a servant or slave.
adjective
4.
of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a vassal.
5.
having the status or position of a vassal.

Origin:
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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
vassal (ˈvæsəl)
 
n
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
 
adj
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]
 
'vassal-less
 
adj

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

vassal
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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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

vassal

in feudal society, one invested with a fief in return for services to an overlord. Some vassals did not have fiefs and lived at their lord's court as his household knights. Certain vassals who held their fiefs directly from the crown were tenants in chief and formed the most important feudal group, the barons. A fief held by tenants of these tenants in chief was called an arriere-fief, and, when the king summoned the whole feudal host, he was said to summon the ban et arriere-ban. There were female vassals as well; their husbands fulfilled their wives' services.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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