[ fyood-l-iz-uhm ]
See synonyms for feudalism on Thesaurus.com
  1. the feudal system, or its principles and practices.

Origin of feudalism

First recorded in 1830–40; feudal + -ism

Other words from feudalism

  • feu·dal·ist, noun
  • feu·dal·is·tic, adjective
  • an·ti·feu·dal·ism, noun
  • an·ti·feu·dal·ist, noun
  • an·ti·feu·dal·is·tic, adjective
  • pre·feu·dal·ism, noun

Words Nearby feudalism

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use feudalism in a sentence

  • If it were a republic to-morrow, it would be a monster in legislation—half-jacobinism, half-feudalism.

  • Though feudalism as a form of government is no longer fashionable, it still survives in spirit.

    Ways of War and Peace | Delia Austrian
  • In the act has been seen the formal acceptance and date of the introduction of feudalism, but it has a very different meaning.

    Landholding In England | Joseph Fisher
  • The system (if such a word can be applied at all) was in fact a bad form of feudalism without its advantages.

    Is Ulster Right? | Anonymous

British Dictionary definitions for feudalism


/ (ˈfjuːdəˌlɪzəm) /

  1. 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

  2. any social system or society, such as medieval Japan or Ptolemaic Egypt, that resembles medieval European feudalism

Derived forms of feudalism

  • 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

Cultural definitions for 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.)

Notes for feudalism

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.