Definition of fief in US English:



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

    • ‘Henry renounced lay investiture, but prelates were to continue to do homage for their fiefs.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The fief was usually land necessary to maintain the vassal, but oftentimes the vassal would receive regular payments of money from a lord.’
    • ‘I have never been to the northern fiefs, and those lands will be mine before Neleva.’
    • ‘By 1086, 80% of the fiefs were in Norman hands (some held by Flemings and Bretons).’
    • ‘But in 1086 William forced all his vassals to swear service directly to him 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.’
    • ‘Some Crusaders stayed on, to be granted various fiefs.’
    • ‘Those who fought with him at Hastings did very well, receiving lands all over England as fiefs.’
    • ‘The chartered companies originated in the feudal practice of sovereigns granting fiefs to vassals in exchange for acceptance of obligations to the suzerain.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Scots nobles lost their English fiefs; after 1380 the Scots pound floated free of the English pound.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Their heirs would become emperors; John's own heirs would be given various imperial fiefs.’
    • ‘In retaliation, Teresa tried to lay claim to the Barberini fiefs in the Kingdom of Naples, but she did not pursue this very far.’
    • ‘He gave fiefs to Norman lords, trying to keep the Saxon barons from becoming too strong.’
    • ‘After complicated manoeuvring on both sides, in 1202 King Philip announced that John had forfeited the Plantagenet fiefs in France.’
    • ‘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
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  • 2A person's sphere of operation or control.

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


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