1. A fixed sum charged, as by an institution or by law, for a privilege: a license fee; tuition fees.
2. A charge for professional services: a surgeons fee.
3. A tip; a gratuity.
4. Law An inherited or heritable estate in land.
a. In feudal law, an estate in land granted by a lord to his vassal on condition of homage and service. Also called feud2, fief.
b. The land so held.
It is possible to see the idea of money taking hold of the human mind by studying a few words that express the notion of wealth or goods. The word fee
now denotes money paid or received for a service rendered. Fee
comes from Old English feoh,
which has three meanings, all equally ancient: cattle, livestock; goods, possessions, movable property; money. The Germanic form behind the Old English is *fehu,
which derives by Grimms Law from Indo-European *peku-,
is therefore a cognate of Latin pecu,
cattle, also a direct descendant of Indo-European *peku-.
has several derivatives that ultimately were borrowed into English. One was pecnia,
money, the source of our word pecuniary.
Another was pecliris,
pertaining to ones peclium
or property, the source of our word peculiar.
Finally, our word peculator
comes from yet a third derivative, pecltor,
embezzler of public money, peculator.