feudalism

Feudalism was a European political system in which a lord owned all the land while vassals and serfs farmed it. Feudalism ended in the 1400s.

People who lived during feudalism didn't use the term feudalism. In fact, it wasn't until several centuries after this system ended that scholars coined the term feudalism. The ending -ism means "philosophy or system." And feudal comes from the Medieval Latin word feudalis, meaning "feudal estate," and is related to feodary, "one who holds lands of an overlord in exchange for service."

Definitions of feudalism
  1. noun
    the social system that developed in Europe in the 8th century; vassals were protected by lords who they had to serve in war
    synonyms: feudal system
    see moresee less
    type of:
    social organisation, social organization, social structure, social system, structure
    the people in a society considered as a system organized by a characteristic pattern of relationships
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

ACT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week