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[fyood-l-iz-uh m] /ˈfyud lˌɪz əm/
the feudal system, or its principles and practices.
Origin of feudalism
First recorded in 1830-40; feudal + -ism
Related forms
feudalist, noun
feudalistic, adjective
antifeudalism, noun
antifeudalist, noun
antifeudalistic, adjective
prefeudalism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for feudalism
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • In fact, after the death of Cromwell, feudalism was extinct in England.

    Criminal Man Gina Lombroso-Ferrero
  • feudalism is the essential politico-economic system of the Middle Ages.

    Socialism John Spargo
  • Like feudalism, it was a growth, a development of existing forms.

    Socialism John Spargo
  • The peril in which feudalism was placed revived their ancient sentiments.

    Tancred Benjamin Disraeli
  • Was the overthrow of feudalism in Europe a gain or a loss to commerce?

    Commercial Geography

    Jacques W. Redway
  • How potent must have been the circumstances which the feudalism of ages had created.

  • The origin of feudalism is well known and isPg 050 common to all European countries.


    Emile Cammaerts
  • Belgium had definitely broken down the barriers of feudalism.


    Emile Cammaerts
  • State clearly the advantages and disadvantages of feudalism.

British Dictionary definitions for feudalism


Also called feudal system. the legal and social system that evolved in W Europe in the 8th and 9th centuries, in which vassals were protected and maintained by their lords, usually through the granting of fiefs, and were required to serve under them in war See also vassalage, fief
any social system or society, such as medieval Japan or Ptolemaic Egypt, that resembles medieval European feudalism
Derived Forms
feudalist, noun
feudalistic, adjective
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 feudalism

a coinage of historians, first attested 1839; see feudal. Feudal system attested from 1776.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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feudalism in Culture
feudalism [(fyoohd-l-iz-uhm)]

A system of obligations that bound lords and their subjects in Europe during much of the Middle Ages. In theory, the king owned all or most of the land and gave it to his leading nobles in return for their loyalty and military service. The nobles in turn held land that peasants, including serfs, were allowed to farm in return for the peasants' labor and a portion of their produce. Under feudalism, people were born with a permanent position in society. (See fief and vassal.)

Note: Today, the word feudal is sometimes used as a general term for a set of social relationships that seems unprogressive or out of step with modern society.
The 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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