A vassal is a person or entity (such as a country or organization) who owes allegiance and service to a superior or more powerful authority, usually in exchange for protection or support. In feudal societies, vassals held land or other forms of property from feudal lords and were expected to provide military and other services in exchange for the use of the land. Today, the term is sometimes used to describe a person who is subservient or subordinate to someone else.


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



subordinate, servant, subordinate, serf, subject, dependant, liege, subject, slave, retainer, henchman, follower, bondman, vavasour, dependant, feudatory.


master, lord, sovereign, ruler, leader, superior.

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun vassals, vassal
Verb None
Adjective None
Adverb None

Example Sentences

  • During the feudal period, vassals swore loyalty to their lords and performed various services in exchange for protection and the use of land.

  • The country remained a vassal state to its more powerful neighbor, obliged to pay tribute and follow its dictates.

  • In medieval Europe, vassals who rebelled against their lords risked losing their lands, titles, and even their lives.

  • The powerful noble granted land and privileges to his vassals, but in return, he expected their service and loyalty.


The word “vassal” comes from the Old French word “vassal,” which originally referred to a tenant or servant who held land from a lord. The word ultimately derives from the Latin word “vassus,” meaning “servant” or “slave.” The term was widely used in feudal societies, where vassals were bound to serve their lords and provide military and other services in exchange for land and protection.

The word “vassal” is typically used to describe a subordinate or dependent person or entity, one who owes allegiance and loyalty to a more powerful authority. For example, a vassal state is a country that is politically or economically dependent on another country, often a colonial power or a dominant regional power. In this context, the term “vassal” suggests a lack of independence, self-determination, or sovereignty.

The word “vassal” may also be used in a more general sense to describe a person who is subordinate to another, especially in a personal or professional context. For example, an employee may be described as a vassal to their boss or a client may be described as a vassal to their attorney. In these cases, the term “vassal” implies a hierarchical relationship, in which one person has more power or authority than the other, and the other is expected to provide some form of service or deference.

The word “vassal” is a noun and typically appears without any prefixes or suffixes. However, it may be used in different forms depending on the context. For example, “vassalage” is a noun that refers to the relationship between a vassal and a lord or other superior authority. “Feudal vassal” is another term that may be used to specifically describe a vassal in a feudal society. Overall, the word “vassal” has a rich historical and cultural context, and continues to be used today to describe relationships of dependence and subordination.