vassal

[ vas-uhl ]
/ ˈvæs əl /

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, adjectivenon·vas·sal, nounsub·vas·sal, nounun·der·vas·sal, noun

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH vassal

vassal , vessel.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for vassal

British Dictionary definitions for vassal

vassal
/ (ˈvæsəl) /

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
  1. a person, nation, etc, in a subordinate, suppliant, or dependent position relative to another
  2. (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

vassal

Under 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.