- (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, relating to, or characteristic of a vassal.
- having the status or position of a vassal.
Origin of vassal
Examples from the Web for vassal
She had, indeed, given up her position as queen of the less to be vassal of the greater.A Pair of Blue Eyes
King Gunther receives the fair Recken into his service as a vassal.Legends of the Rhine
The second is a king who was a vassal of Tiglath-Pilezer, king of Assyria.
The Duke looked sharply at him, then turned his gaze on his vassal.Millennium
Everett B. Cole
Highness—tell me, your Highness, a vassal doesn't amount to much, does he?The Ghost Breaker
- (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
- a person, nation, etc, in a subordinate, suppliant, or dependent position relative to another
- (as modifier)vassal status
- of or relating to a vassal
Word Origin and History for vassal
mid-15c. (c.1200 as a surname) "tenant who pledges fealty to a lord," from Old French vassal, from Medieval Latin vassallus "manservant, domestic, retainer," from vassus "servant," from Old Celtic *wasso- "young man, squire" (cf. Welsh gwas "youth, servant," Breton goaz "servant, vassal, man," Irish foss "servant"). The adjective is recorded from 1590s.
Under feudalism, a subordinate who placed himself in service to a lord in return for the lord's protection.