One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Originally: †an estate or fief held by a subvassal (obsolete). Later: the state or condition of being a subvassal. Now chiefly: = subinfeudation.
Mid 18th century; earliest use found in Patrick Murdoch (d. 1774), Church of England clergyman and writer. From sub- + vassalage, originally after German Afterlehn, in later use after subvassal.
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