Definition of fief in US English:



  • 1Law
    historical An estate of land, especially one held on condition of feudal service.

    • ‘In retaliation, Teresa tried to lay claim to the Barberini fiefs in the Kingdom of Naples, but she did not pursue this very far.’
    • ‘After complicated manoeuvring on both sides, in 1202 King Philip announced that John had forfeited the Plantagenet fiefs in France.’
    • ‘Those who fought with him at Hastings did very well, receiving lands all over England as fiefs.’
    • ‘In 1525 Albrecht of Hohenzollern, Grand Master of the Order, accepted Lutheranism, secularized the state, and created a duchy as a fief of Poland.’
    • ‘Their heirs would become emperors; John's own heirs would be given various imperial fiefs.’
    • ‘Large incomes were required before titles were awarded, but fiefs and landgrants were carved out of conquered territories in order to endow the new titles.’
    • ‘I have never been to the northern fiefs, and those lands will be mine before Neleva.’
    • ‘Throughout 1171, Strongbow sent emissaries to Henry, and eventually went to Henry in person, offering to surrender his lands in return for their fief as a vassal of the king.’
    • ‘Otherwise Leinster and Meath became fiefs, held of the English crown by precisely defined knight service by Strongbow and Hugh de Lacy respectively.’
    • ‘Scots nobles lost their English fiefs; after 1380 the Scots pound floated free of the English pound.’
    • ‘During the Eastern Zhou royal power declined and there was a concomitant growth in the feudal fiefs, some becoming quasi-independent kingdoms.’
    • ‘He gave fiefs to Norman lords, trying to keep the Saxon barons from becoming too strong.’
    • ‘King John made up by surrendering his kingdom as a feudal fief to the pope.’
    • ‘Some Crusaders stayed on, to be granted various fiefs.’
    • ‘But in 1086 William forced all his vassals to swear service directly to him for their fiefs.’
    • ‘The chartered companies originated in the feudal practice of sovereigns granting fiefs to vassals in exchange for acceptance of obligations to the suzerain.’
    • ‘The fief was usually land necessary to maintain the vassal, but oftentimes the vassal would receive regular payments of money from a lord.’
    • ‘By 1086, 80% of the fiefs were in Norman hands (some held by Flemings and Bretons).’
    • ‘Henry renounced lay investiture, but prelates were to continue to do homage for their fiefs.’
    • ‘John became Lord of Ireland in 1177, but he did not receive any actual fiefs, so he got nicknamed John Lackland.’
    dependency, colony, protectorate, territory, province, outpost, satellite, satellite state
    View synonyms
  • 2A person's sphere of operation or control.

    • ‘Wearing their organizational hat, they - Gary Latham more vigorously and successfully than most - have moved toward closer cooperation among the manifold fiefs of psychology, and their various barons.’
    • ‘It is not, one presumes, the view of the French generals who currently treat the people and nation of Cote d' Ivoire as their fief.’
    • ‘That way, I would retain control of my own fief, and still have the man I loved.’
    • ‘It doesn't take a genius to understand why Bremmer and his boss are so reluctant to employ the universal concept of democracy in their occupied fief.’
    • ‘So at the instruction of Mandela and his charitable fiefs, MacRobert is going after ersatz Mandelas with a vengeance.’
    • ‘What followed upon the loss of Communist Party and planned economy centralism was not so much ‘decentralization’, as many commentators suggested, as the formation of eighty-nine largely disconnected fiefs.’
    • ‘Brokaw and Jennings want to preserve their fiefs for just a little while longer (Brokaw retires on December 1).’
    • ‘I love my people, the people of my fief, the fief that has been mine since the death of my mother.’
    • ‘It appears unlikely that Tung will soon name a successor since Yeoh has until October before abandoning his fief for exile.’
    • ‘The vote on Sunday was the final stage in a peace plan to end 13 years of civil war and restore a government to Somalia, which has been divided into fiefs ruled by rival warlords since 1991 when dictator Siad Barre was ousted.’
    • ‘Almost 200 years ago, one of the many rebellions in central China was the product of unmarried men who formed into a 100,000-strong gang that established a fief which lasted for 17 years before it was quashed by the imperial army.’
    • ‘The oil and mineral companies bought their fiefs.’
    • ‘Before the Nehru family made Amethi their fief, there were no roads, power, schools and industries there.’
    • ‘Governors in Russia wield a huge influence on votes in their fiefs, but Titov has difficulty coming second even in his home region, with a rating of 17%.’
    • ‘The push for freedom that began in Iraq is steadily wresting Lebanon away from its status as a fief of Damascus.’
    • ‘I am the custodian of the faith and savings of 30,000 members and I can't turn it into a fief.’
    • ‘Prancor, too, was in the Wraston Basin, but it wasn't so much a mining fief as it was a lumber-oriented fief.’
    • ‘Regardless of their personal profile, all ministerial officials behaved in much the same way in relation to their own fiefs.’
    • ‘We need them now and, from the reports of drought in the western fiefs, we shall need them for some time to come.’
    • ‘In other words, says Horowitz, ‘a private fief for the radical left.’’


Early 17th century: from French (see fee).