fee

Definitions

General English

Accounting

  • noun money paid for work carried out by a professional person such as an accountant, a doctor or a lawyer

Banking

  • noun money paid for something

Construction

  • Remuneration for professional services.

Law

  • noun ownership of land which may be inherited

Real Estate

  • noun a right to land that can be passed on by inheritance

Origin & History of “fee”

Fee is a word bequeathed to modern English by the feudal system (and indeed it is closely related etymologically to feudal). It came via Anglo-Norman fee from medieval Latin feodum or feudum (source also of feudal (17th c.)). this denoted ‘land or other property whose use was granted as a reward for service’, a meaning which persists in its essentials in modern English ‘payment for work done’. The secondary signification of fee, ‘feudal estate’, is no longer a live sense, but it is represented in the related fief (17th c.), a descendant of feodum, which English acquired through French rather than Anglo-Norman. The ultimate derivation of the medieval Latin term itself is not altogether clear, although it is usually assigned to an unrecorded Frankish *fehuōd, literally ‘cattle-property’ (*fehu has related forms in Old English féoh ‘cattle, property’ and Old Norse ‘cattle, money’ – joint sources of the first syllable of English fellow – and in modern German viehe ‘cattle’; they all go back ultimately to Indo-European *peku-, ancestor of a wide range of words meaning ‘cattle’ which, since in former times cattle were symbolic of wealth, in many cases came to signify ‘property’ too).
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