vassal [ vas- uhl ] SHOW IPA / ˈvæs əl / PHONETIC RESPELLING noun (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. adjective of, relating to, or characteristic of a vassal. having the status or position of a vassal.
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Origin of vassal
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 OTHER WORDS FROM vassal vas·sal·less, adjective non·vas·sal, noun sub·vas·sal, noun un·der·vas·sal, noun WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH vassal vassal , vessel
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use vassal in a sentence
Rivals can become
vassals who do your bidding in exchange for your championing their wee causes.
The kiss also served as a sign of trust between feudal lords and
Hemingburgh makes Bruce speak to his father's
vassals before the Irvine episode as a Scotsman, at any rate by descent.
He was needed to set right his barony, for he himself grew weak and his
And Herbert began to call to arms the
vassals of the barony, and chuckled when he thought of the brave times ahead.
vassals, veritable sovereigns, entrenched in their duchies, laughed at the impotent authority of the King.
But for a moment it seemed just possible that some of his
vassals would break out in spite of him. British Dictionary definitions for vassal noun (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 adjective of or relating to a vassal Derived forms of vassal vassal-less, adjective Word Origin for vassal
C14: via Old French from Medieval Latin
vassallus, from vassus servant, of Celtic origin; compare Welsh gwas boy, Old Irish foss servant
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 vassal
feudalism, a subordinate who placed himself in service to a lord in return for the lord's protection.
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.