Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A person who held land from a feudal lord and received protection in return for homage and allegiance.
  • n. A bondman; a slave.
  • n. A subordinate or dependent.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The grantee of a fief, feud, or fee; one who keeps land of a superior, and who vows fidelity and homage to him, normally a lord of a manor; a feudatory; a feudal tenant.
  • n. A subject; a dependant; a servant; a slave.
  • adj. Resembling a vassal; slavish; servile.
  • v. To treat as a vassal or to reduce to the position of a vassal; to subject to control; to enslave.
  • v. To subordinate to someone or something.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Resembling a vassal; slavish; servile.
  • n. The grantee of a fief, feud, or fee; one who holds land of a superior, and who vows fidelity and homage to him; a feudatory; a feudal tenant.
  • n. A subject; a dependent; a servant; a bondman; a slave.
  • transitive v. To treat as a vassal; to subject to control; to enslave.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A feudatory tenant; one holding lands by the obligation to render military service or its equivalent to his superior, especially in contradistinction to rear vassal and vavasor; a vassal of the first order—that is, one holding directly from the king. Compare great vassal, below.
  • n. A subject; a dependent; a retainer; a servant; one who attends on or does the will of another.
  • n. A bondman; a slave.
  • n. A low wretch.
  • Servile; subservient.
  • To subject to vassalage; enslave; treat as a vassal.
  • To command; rise over or above; dominate.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a person holding a fief; a person who owes allegiance and service to a feudal lord

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *vassallus, from *vassus, of Celtic origin; see upo in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Old French vassal, from Medieval Latin vassallus ("manservant, domestic, retainer"), from vassus ("servant"), from Gaulish uassos ("young man, squire") (Wiktionary)

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  • "Obama couldn’t and wouldn’t criticize Nazi Germany because its brutal program of territorial reconquest, expansion, and confrontation of major rivals closely resembles today’s U.S. rulers’ own agenda. They are hell-bent on retaking the Mid-East and its oil, making U.S. protectorates of former Soviet vassals in Eastern Europe, and militarily besting potential super-powers like China, Russia, India, and the European Union."
    - challenge, 'Coin Toss Between Obama, McCain Yields: WAR, WAR, WAR', progressivelabor.890m.com, 6 August 2008.

    October 30, 2008