• Fee

    Pronunciation

    • enPR: IPA: /fiː/
    • Rhymes: -iː
    • Homophones: fi

    Origin

    From Middle English fee, fe, feh, feoh, from Old English feoh ("cattle, property, wealth, money, payment, tribute, fee") and Old French fieu, fief (< Medieval Latin fevum, a variant of feudum, < Old Frankish *fehu ("cattle, livestock"); >

    English fief), both from Proto-Germanic *fehu ("cattle, sheep, livestock, owndom"), from Proto-Indo-European *peku-, *peḱu- ("sheep"). Cognate with Old High German fihu ("cattle, neat"), 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").

    Full definition of fee

    Noun

    fee

    (plural fees)
    1. (feudal 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.
    2. (legal) An inheritable estate in land held of a feudal lord on condition of the performing of certain services.
    3. (legal) 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).
    4. (obsolete) Property; owndom; estate.
      • Wordsworth, On the Extinction of the Venetian RepublicOnce did she hold the gorgeous East in fee.
      • 1844, , by James Russell LowellWhat doth the poor man's son inherit?
        Stout muscles and a sinewy heart,
        A hardy frame, a hardier spirit;
        King of two hands, he does his part
        In every useful toil and art;
        A heritage, it seems to me,
        A king might wish to hold in fee.
      • 1915, W. Somerset Maugham, "Of Human Bondage", :Cronshaw had told him that the facts of life mattered nothing to him who by the power of fancy held in fee the twin realms of space and time.
    5. (obsolete) Money paid or bestowed; payment; emolument.
    6. (obsolete) A prize or reward. Only used in the set phrase "A finder's fee" in Modern English.
    7. A monetary payment charged for professional services.
      • 2013-07-19, Peter Wilby, Finland spreads word on schools, Imagine a country where children do nothing but play until they start compulsory schooling at age seven. Then, without exception, they attend comprehensives until the age of 16. Charging school fees is illegal, and so is sorting pupils into ability groups by streaming or setting.

    Related terms

    Verb

    1. To reward for services performed, or to be performed; to recompense; to hire or keep in hire; hence, to bribe.
      • unknown date John DrydenThe patient . . . fees the doctor.
      • unknown date, William ShakespeareThere's not a one of them but in his house I keep a servant feed.
      • Herman Melville, OmooWe departed the grounds without seeing Marbonna; and previous to vaulting over the picket, feed our pretty guide, after a fashion of our own.
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