from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A fixed sum charged, as by an institution or by law, for a privilege.
  • noun A charge for professional services.
  • noun A tip; a gratuity.
  • noun In feudal law, an estate in land granted by a lord to his vassal on condition of homage and service.
  • noun The land so held.
  • transitive verb To give a tip to.
  • transitive verb Scots To hire.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Cattle; live stock, especially considered as the basis of wealth.
  • noun Property; estate.
  • noun Money paid or bestowed; payment; emolument.
  • noun Specifically A reward or compensation for services; recompense; in Scotland, wages.
  • noun In particular— A reward fixed by law for the services of a public officer: as, a sheriff's fee for execution.
  • noun A reward for professional services: as, a lawyer's fee; a clergyman's marriage fee.
  • noun A customary gratuity: as, a waiter's fee.
  • noun A sum paid for a privilege: as, an entrance fee to a circus; an initiation fee to a club.
  • To pay a fee to; reward for services past or to come.
  • To hire or bribe; engage or employ the services of.
  • To cause to engage with a person for domestic or farm service: as, a man fees his son to a farmer.
  • noun In hunting, certain portions of the dead animal which were distributed among the huntsmen according to definite regulations.
  • noun An estate in land, of indefinite duration, granted by and held of a superior lord, in whom the ultimate title resides, on condition of performing some service in return. See feud.
  • noun An estate of inheritance; an estate in land belonging to the owner and his heirs and assigns forever.
  • noun Estate in general; property; possession; ownership.
  • noun A fee limited to particular heirs or a particular class of heirs, under the common-law rule that, on the donee's once having such heirs, the estate became absolute for all purposes of alienation, on the ground that a condition once performed was at an end. (See entail.) To designate this kind of conditional fee at the common law, the more appropriate phrase is fee simple conditional. This evasion of the intent of donors to reserve a reversion on a failure of heirs was put an end to by a statute known as De Donis, which enacted that the will of the donor should be observed, and that on the failure of heirs the property should revert to the donor. The estate of the donee under this statute was termed a fee tail. See tail, adjective
  • noun Later, the term conditional fee was applied to the estate of a mortgagee of land, under a mortgage in the usual form, which was regarded as vesting the fee in the mortgagee subject to its being divested by performance of the condition, namely payment.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To reward for services performed, or to be performed; to recompense; to hire or keep in hire; hence, to bribe.
  • noun property; possession; tenure.
  • noun Reward or compensation for services rendered or to be rendered; especially, payment for professional services, of optional amount, or fixed by custom or laws; charge; pay; perquisite
  • noun (Feud. Law) A right to the use of a superior's land, as a stipend for services to be performed; also, the land so held; a fief.
  • noun (Eng. Law) An estate of inheritance supposed to be held either mediately or immediately from the sovereign, and absolutely vested in the owner.
  • noun (Amer. Law) An estate of inheritance belonging to the owner, and transmissible to his heirs, absolutely and simply, without condition attached to the tenure.
  • noun (Eng. Law) land or tenements held in fee in consideration or some acknowledgment or service rendered to the lord.
  • noun (Law) land held of another in fee, in consideration of an annual rent, without homage, fealty, or any other service than that mentioned in the feoffment; an estate in fee simple, subject to a perpetual rent.
  • noun (Eng. Law) a perpetual rent reserved upon a conveyance in fee simple.
  • noun (Scot. Law) certain court dues out of which the clerks and other court officers are paid.
  • noun (Law) an absolute fee; a fee without conditions or limits.
  • noun (Law) an estate of inheritance, limited and restrained to some particular heirs.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun obsolete Cattle; livestock, especially considered as the basis of wealth.
  • noun obsolete Property; owndom; estate.
  • noun obsolete Money paid or bestowed; payment; emolument.
  • noun A monetary payment charged for professional services.
  • noun law An estate of inheritance in land, either absolute and without limitation to any particular class of heirs (fee simple) or limited to a particular class of heirs (fee tail).
  • noun law An inheritable estate in land held of a feudal lord on condition of the performing of certain services.
  • verb To reward for services performed, or to be performed; to recompense; to hire or keep in hire; hence, to bribe.

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

  • verb give a tip or gratuity to in return for a service, beyond the compensation agreed on
  • noun a fixed charge for a privilege or for professional services
  • noun an interest in land capable of being inherited


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

[Middle English fe, from Old English feoh, cattle, goods, money, and from Anglo-Norman fee, fief (from Old French fie, fief, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English feoh); see peku- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English fee, fe, feh, feoh, from Old English feoh ("cattle, property, wealth, money, payment, tribute, fee"), from Proto-Germanic *fehu (“sheep, cattle, owndom”), from Proto-Indo-European *peku-, *peḱu- (“sheep”). Cognate with Scots fe, fie ("cattle, sheep, livestock, deer, goods, property, wealth, money, wages"), West Frisian fee ("livestock"), Dutch vee ("cattle, livestock"), Low German fee ("cattle, livestock, property"), German Vieh ("cattle, livestock"), Danish  ("cattle, beast, dolt"), Swedish  ("beast, cattle, dolt"), Norwegian fe ("cattle"), Icelandic  ("livestock, assets, money"), Latin pecū ("cattle").


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  • "Do you never burn to hold the gorgeous West in fee?" -- ''Yashima, or, The Gorgeous West'' by R T Sherwood, 1931.

    December 24, 2008