- (in the feudal system) a person granted the use of land, in return for rendering homage, fealty, and usually military service or its equivalent to a lord or other superior; feudal tenant.
- a person holding some similar relation to a superior; a subject, subordinate, follower, or retainer.
- a servant or slave.
- of, relating to, or characteristic of a vassal.
- having the status or position of a vassal.
- (in feudal society) a man who entered into a personal relationship with a lord to whom he paid homage and fealty in return for protection and often a fief. A great vassal was in vassalage to a king and a rear vassal to a great vassal
- a person, nation, etc, in a subordinate, suppliant, or dependent position relative to another
- (as modifier)vassal status
- of or relating to a vassal
mid-15c. (c.1200 as a surname) “tenant who pledges fealty to a lord,” from Old French vassal, from Medieval Latin vassallus “manservant, domestic, retainer,” from vassus “servant,” from Old Celtic *wasso- “young man, squire” (cf. Welsh gwas “youth, servant,” Breton goaz “servant, vassal, man,” Irish foss “servant”). The adjective is recorded from 1590s.
Under feudalism, a subordinate who placed himself in service to a lord in return for the lord’s protection.