[fyood-l-iz-uh m]


the feudal system, or its principles and practices.

Origin of feudalism

First recorded in 1830–40; feudal + -ism
Related formsfeu·dal·ist, nounfeu·dal·is·tic, adjectivean·ti·feu·dal·ism, nounan·ti·feu·dal·ist, nounan·ti·feu·dal·is·tic, adjectivepre·feu·dal·ism, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for feudalism

Contemporary Examples of feudalism

  • Then she and Red got into an argument about Putin, the Russian character and when Tsarism and feudalism truly ended in Russia.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Vegan Strippers Let It All Hang Out

    Kelly Williams Brown

    March 29, 2014

Historical Examples of feudalism

  • 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.


    John Spargo

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


    John Spargo

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


    Benjamin Disraeli

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

    Commercial Geography

    Jacques W. Redway

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 warSee also vassalage, fief
any social system or society, such as medieval Japan or Ptolemaic Egypt, that resembles medieval European feudalism
Derived Formsfeudalist, nounfeudalistic, 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

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

feudalism in Culture



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.)


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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.