Share this entry

Share this page


Line breaks: vas¦sal
Pronunciation: /ˈvas(ə)l

Definition of vassal in English:


1A holder of land by feudal tenure on conditions of homage and allegiance.
Example sentences
  • Liege homage involved the vassal admitting his obligation to pay all services, including the provision of military assistance.
  • These oath-takings are critical to Tolkien's mythologising of the past because they reproduce the feudal bonds that a vassal pays to his liege lord.
  • In the feudal relationship, a vassal owed loyalty and service to a lord according to the terms of their personal agreement.
villein, liege, liegeman, man, bondsman, vavasour, serf, helot, slave, thrall, subject
1.1A person or country in a subordinate position to another: [as modifier]: a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire
More example sentences
  • The last king, who possessed only the land on the right bank of the Bosna, sought to strengthen his position by becoming a vassal of the pope.
  • About 800 years ago it was also the site of the legendary vassal state, the Western Xia Kingdom, which was finally conquered by Genghis Khan.
  • A restored Stuart monarchy would have made Britain a vassal state of France.


late Middle English: via Old French from medieval Latin vassallus 'retainer', of Celtic origin; compare with vavasour.



Example sentences
  • The fief overshadowed fealty, the benefice became more important than vassalage, and freemen began to swear allegiance to the highest bidder only.
  • In 1163, he attempted to firmly define his rights as feudal overlord of the Welsh princes by demanding oaths of vassalage from them at the Council of Woodstock.
  • He understood the practice of European vassalage and the importance attached to an oath taken to an lord.

Definition of vassal in:

Share this entry

Share this page


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?