Etymology
Advertisement
fief (n.)
also feoff, 1610s, from French fief (12c.) "a 'feud,' possession, holding, domain; feudal duties, payment," from Medieval Latin feodum "land or other property whose use is granted in return for service," widely said to be from Frankish *fehu-od "payment-estate," or a similar Germanic compound, in which the first element is from Proto-Germanic *fekhu, making it cognate with Old English feoh "money, movable property, cattle" (see fee). Second element perhaps is similar to Old English ead "wealth" (see Edith).
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
enfeoff (v.)
c. 1400, based on Old French enfeffer, from en- "in" (see en- (1)) + feoff, variant of fief (n.). Related: Enfeoffment.
Related entries & more 
fee (n.)

Middle English, representing the merger or mutual influence of two words, one from Old English, one from an Old French form of the same Germanic word, and both ultimately from a PIE root meaning "cattle."

The Old English word is feoh "livestock, cattle; movable property; possessions in livestock, goods, or money; riches, treasure, wealth; money as a medium of exchange or payment," from Proto-Germanic *fehu (source also of Old Saxon fehu, Old High German fihu, German Vieh "cattle," Gothic faihu "money, fortune"). This is from PIE *peku- "cattle" (source also of Sanskrit pasu, Lithuanian pekus "cattle;" Latin pecu "cattle," pecunia "money, property").

The other word is Anglo-French fee, from Old French fieu, a variant of fief "possession, holding, domain; feudal duties, payment" (see fief), which apparently is a Germanic compound in which the first element is cognate with Old English feoh.

Via Anglo-French come the legal senses "estate in land or tenements held on condition of feudal homage; land, property, possession" (c. 1300). Hence fee-simple (late 14c.) "absolute ownership," as opposed to fee-tail (early 15c.) "entailed ownership," inheritance limited to some particular class of heirs (second element from Old French taillir "to cut, to limit").

The feudal sense was extended from landholdings to inheritable offices of service to a feudal lord (late 14c.; in Anglo-French late 13c.), for example forester of fe "a forester by heritable right." As these often were offices of profit, the word came to be used for "remuneration for service in office" (late 14c.), hence, "payment for (any kind of) work or services" (late 14c.). From late 14c. as "a sum paid for a privilege" (originally admission to a guild); early 15c. as "money payment or charge exacted for a licence, etc."

Related entries & more 
tenement (n.)
c. 1300, "holding of immovable property" (such as land or buildings,) from Anglo-French (late 13c.), Old French tenement "fief, land, possessions, property" (12c.), from Medieval Latin tenementum "a holding, fief" (11c.), from Latin tenere "to hold," from PIE root *ten- "to stretch." The meaning "dwelling place, residence" is attested from early 15c.; tenement house "house broken up into apartments, usually in a poor section of a city" is first recorded 1858, American English, from tenement in an earlier sense (especially in Scotland) "large house constructed to be let to a number of tenants" (1690s).
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
loan (n.)
late 12c., "that which is lent or owning, a thing furnished on promise of future return," also "a gift or reward from a superior, a gift of God," from Old Norse lan "loan," from Proto-Germanic *laikhwniz (source also of Old Frisian len "thing lent," Middle Dutch lene, Dutch leen "loan, fief," Old High German lehan, German Lehn "fief, feudal tenure"), originally "to let have, to leave (to someone)," from PIE *loikw-nes-, suffixed form of root *leikw- "to leave."

The Norse word also is cognate with Old English læn "gift," which according to OED did not survive into Middle English, but its derived verb lænan is the source of lend (v.). From early 15c. as "a contribution to public finances" (ostensibly voluntary but often coerced; sometimes repaid, sometimes not). As a verb, loan is attested from 1540s, perhaps earlier, and formerly was current, but it has now been supplanted in England by lend, though it survives in American English. Slang loan shark first attested 1900 (see shark (n.)).
Related entries & more