Definition of fief in US English:



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

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

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Brokaw and Jennings want to preserve their fiefs for just a little while longer (Brokaw retires on December 1).’
    • ‘Before the Nehru family made Amethi their fief, there were no roads, power, schools and industries there.’
    • ‘In other words, says Horowitz, ‘a private fief for the radical left.’’
    • ‘I love my people, the people of my fief, the fief that has been mine since the death of my mother.’
    • ‘The push for freedom that began in Iraq is steadily wresting Lebanon away from its status as a fief of Damascus.’
    • ‘It appears unlikely that Tung will soon name a successor since Yeoh has until October before abandoning his fief for exile.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘That way, I would retain control of my own fief, and still have the man I loved.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We need them now and, from the reports of drought in the western fiefs, we shall need them for some time to come.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘Regardless of their personal profile, all ministerial officials behaved in much the same way in relation to their own fiefs.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I am the custodian of the faith and savings of 30,000 members and I can't turn it into a fief.’
    • ‘So at the instruction of Mandela and his charitable fiefs, MacRobert is going after ersatz Mandelas with a vengeance.’
    • ‘Prancor, too, was in the Wraston Basin, but it wasn't so much a mining fief as it was a lumber-oriented fief.’
    • ‘The oil and mineral companies bought their fiefs.’


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