AskDefine | Define feud

Dictionary Definition

feud n : a bitter quarrel between two parties v : carry out a feud; "The two professors have been feuding for years"

User Contributed Dictionary



Etymology 1

From feide, fede, from fehida (German Fehde), from *|faihiþā. The cognate Old English word was fæhþu; the word corresponds formally to foe + -th.

Alternative spellings


  1. A state of long-standing mutual hostility.
    The two men began to feud after one of them got a job promotion and the other thought he was more qualified.
  2. (professional wrestling slang) In professional wrestling, when two rival wrestlers engage in a series of matches; often has an angle tied to it.
Related terms


  1. To carry on a feud.
to carry on a feud

Etymology 2

From feodum.

Alternative spellings


  1. An estate granted to a vassal by a feudal lord in exchange for service
An estate granted to a vassal
Related terms

Extensive Definition

A feud () (referred to in more extreme cases as a blood feud or vendetta) is a long-running argument or fight between parties—often, through guilt by association, groups of people, especially families or clans. Feuds tend to begin because one party (correctly or incorrectly) perceives itself to have been attacked, insulted or wronged by another. A long-running cycle of retaliation, often involving the original parties' family members and/or associates, then ensues. Feuds can last for generations.
Up to the early modern period, feuds were considered legitimate legal instruments and were regulated to some degree. Once states asserted and enforced a monopoly on legitimate use of force, feuds became illegal and the concept acquired its current negative connotation.

Blood feuds/vendetta

A blood feud is a feud with a cycle of retaliatory violence, with the relatives of someone who has been killed or otherwise wronged or dishonored seeking vengeance by killing or otherwise physically punishing the culprits or their relatives. Historically, the word vendetta has been used to mean a blood feud. The word is Italian, and originates from the Latin vindicta, "vengeance." In modern times, the word is sometimes extended to mean any other long-standing feud, not necessarily involving bloodshed.

Vendetta history

Originally, a vendetta was a blood feud between two families where kinsmen of the victim intended to avenge his or her death by killing either those responsible for the killing or some of their relatives. The responsibility to maintain the vendetta usually falls on the closest male relative to whoever has been killed or wronged, but other members of the family may take the mantle as well. If the culprit had disappeared or was already dead, the vengeance could extend to other relatives.
Vendetta is typical of societies with a weak rule of law (or where the state doesn't consider itself responsible for mediating this kind of dispute) where family and kinship ties are the main source of authority. An entire family is considered responsible for whatever one of them has done. Sometimes even two separate branches of the same family could come to blows over some matter.
The practice has mostly disappeared with more centralized societies where law enforcement and criminal law take responsibility of punishing lawbreakers.
The Celtic phenomenon of the blood feud demanded "an eye for an eye," and usually descended into murder. Disagreements between clans might last for generations in Scotland and Ireland. Due to the Celtic heritage of many whites living in Appalachia, a series of prolonged violent engagements in late- nineteenth-century Kentucky and West Virginia were referred to commonly as feuds, a tendency that was partly due to the nineteenth-century popularity of William Shakespeare and Sir Walter Scott, authors who both wrote semihistorical accounts of blood feuds. These incidents, the most famous of which was the Hatfield-McCoy feud, were regularly featured in the newspapers of the eastern U.S. between the 1880s and the early twentieth century. Although they were interpreted as such at the time, there is little reason to believe that these American incidents had any correlation to "feuding" in Europe centuries earlier.
In Japan's feudal past the Samurai class upheld the honor of their family, clan, or their lord by katakiuchi (), or revenge killings. These killings could also involve the relatives of an offender. While some vendettas were punished by the government, such as that of the 47 Ronin, others were given official permission with specific targets.
More than a third of the Ya̧nomamö males, on average, died from warfare. The accounts of missionaries to the area have recounted constant infighting in the tribes for women or prestige, and evidence of continuous warfare for the enslavement of neighboring tribes such as the Macu before the arrival of European settlers and government.
The Central Asian plateau (north of China) at the time of Genghis Khan’s youth was divided into several nomadic tribes or confederations—among them Naimans, Merkits, Uyghurs, Tatars, Mongols, and Keraits—that were all prominent in their own right and often unfriendly toward each other, as evidenced by frequent raids, revenges, and plundering. Traditions similar to vendetta have existed almost everywhere, including among Albanians, Greeks, Montenegrins, Basques, Berbers, Circassians, and Serbs.
The Clan Gordon was at one point one of the most powerful clans in middle Scotland. Clan feuds and battles were frequent, especially with the Clan Cameron, Clan Murray, Clan Forbes, and the Chattan Confederation.
In Corsica, vendetta was a social code that required Corsicans to kill anyone who wronged the family honor. It has been estimated that between 1683 and 1715, nearly 30,000 out of 120,000 Corsicans lost their lives to vendetta.
Throughout history, the Maniots—one of Greece's toughest populations—have been known by their neighbors and their enemies as fearless warriors who practice blood feuds. Some vendettas went on for months and sometimes years. The families involved would lock themselves in their towers and when they got the chance would murder members of the opposing family.
The Basque Country in the Late Middle Ages was ravaged by bitter partisan wars between local ruling families. In Navarre, these conflicts became polarised in a violent struggle between the Agramont and Beaumont parties. In Bizkaia, the two major warring factions were named Oinaz and Gamboa. (Cf. the Guelphs and Ghibellines in Italy). High defensive structures ("towers") built by local noble families, few of which survive today, were frequently razed by fires, sometimes by royal decree. Leontiy Lyulye, an expert on conditions in the Caucasus, wrote in the mid-19th century: "Among the mountain people the blood feud is not an uncontrollable permanent feeling such as the vendetta is among the Corsicans. It is more like an obligation imposed by the public opinion." In the Dagestani aul Kadar, one such blood feud between two antagonistic clans lasted for nearly 260 years, from the 17th century till the 1860s.
An alternative to feud was blood money (or weregild in the Norse culture), which demanded payment of some kind from those responsible for a wrongful death (even an accidental one). If these payments were not made or were refused by the offended party, a blood feud would ensue.

Vendetta in modern times

Vendetta is reputedly still practiced in some areas in Corsica and Italy (especially Sardinia, Campania, Sicily and Calabria), in Crete (Greece), in eastern regions of Turkey, in northern Albania, among Pashtuns in Afghanistan, among the Arab Bedouins and Arab tribes inhabiting the mountains of Yemen and among the highland tribes of New Guinea, in Svaneti, in the mountainous areas of Dagestan, many northern areas of Georgia and Azerbaijan, a number of republics of the northern Caucasus and essentially among Chechen teips where those seeking retribution do not accept or respect the local law enforcement authority. Vendettas are generally abetted by a perceived or actual indifference on behalf of local law enforcement.
In Albania, more than 2,500 Albanian families are currently engaged in blood feuds. There are now more than 20,000 men and boys who live under an ever-present death sentence because of blood feuds. Since 1992, at least 5,000 Albanians have been killed due to blood feuds.
Mutual vendetta may develop into a vicious circle of further killings, retaliation, counterattacks, and all-out warfare that can end in the mutual extinction of both families. Often the original cause is forgotten, and feuds continue simply because it is perceived that there has always been a feud.
There is a scene in The Godfather, in which Michael Corleone, hiding from U.S. police in Sicily, walks through a village with his two bodyguards. Michael asks, "Where are all the men?" The bodyguard replied, "They're all dead from vendettas."
Some of the gang wars between organized crime groups are effectively forms of vendetta, where the criminal organization (like the Mafia "family") has taken the place of blood relatives.

Famous blood feuds

Fictional blood feuds

Hip-hop feuds

In modern hip-hop, rappers notoriously engage in verbal warfare with one another, which occasionally spills over into actual violence and sometimes murder. The most high-profile feud in rap was the Tupac - Notorious BIG Feud, which included several shootings and attacks on friends of both icons. It culminated with the highly publicized killings of Tupac Shakur in 1996 and The Notorious BIG in 1997. A list of all feuds can be found on Other notable rap feuds have included:

Reggaetón feuds

Much like Hip Hop, Reggaetón is an Urban music genre, which has notoriously involved many feuds between artists who engage in lyrical warfare with one another, which sometimes escalates to violence. Many Reggaetóneros have released diss tracks attacking other artists, which have led to many notable feuds. Some of this include:

Wrestling feuds

In professional wrestling, a feud is a staged disagreement between two wrestlers or factions.


See also

External links


feud in Czech: Vendeta
feud in German: Fehde
feud in Spanish: Enemistad
feud in Esperanto: Vendetto
feud in French: Vendetta (justice privée)
feud in Italian: Faida
feud in Hebrew: נקמת דם
feud in Dutch: Vete
feud in Japanese: フェーデ
feud in Polish: Wendeta
feud in Romanian: Vendetta
feud in Russian: Вендетта
feud in Albanian: Gjakmarrja
feud in Serbian: Крвна освета
feud in Swedish: Vendetta (blodshämnd)

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

acrimony, adverse possession, alodium, altercate, altercation, animosity, animus, antagonism, argument, avengement, bad blood, battle, bicker, bickering, bitter feeling, bitterness, blood feud, box, brawl, broil, burgage, claim, clash, close, collide, colony, combat, come to blows, conflict, contend, contention, contest, controversy, copyhold, cut and thrust, de facto, de jure, dependency, derivative title, differ, disagree, disagreement, discord, dispute, dissension, donnybrook, donnybrook fair, duel, embroilment, enmity, equitable estate, estate at sufferance, estate for life, estate for years, estate in expectancy, estate in fee, estate in possession, estate tail, estrangement, exchange blows, fall out, falling-out, fee, fee fief, fee position, fee simple, fee simple absolute, fee simple conditional, fee simple defeasible, fee simple determinable, fee tail, fence, feod, feodum, feudal estate, fief, fiefdom, fight, fight a duel, flite, fliting, fracas, frankalmoign, free socage, freehold, fuss, gavelkind, getting even, give and take, give satisfaction, grapple, grapple with, grudge, hard feelings, hatred, have words, having title to, hold, holding, hostility, ill blood, ill feeling, ill will, imbroglio, join issue, jostle, joust, knight service, lay fee, lease, leasehold, legal claim, legal estate, legal possession, logomachy, mandate, mix it up, occupancy, occupation, open quarrel, original title, owning, paramount estate, particular estate, polemic, possessing, possession, preoccupancy, preoccupation, prepossession, prescription, property, property rights, proprietary rights, quarrel, rancor, rassle, remainder, reprisal, retaliation, revanche, revanchism, revenge, reversion, riot, rivalry, row, run a tilt, run-in, scramble, scuffle, seisin, set to, sharp words, skirmish, slanging match, snarl, socage, soreness, sourness, spar, spat, squabble, squatting, strife, strive, struggle, sublease, sweet revenge, tenancy, tenantry, tenure, tenure in chivalry, thrust and parry, tiff, tilt, title, tourney, tussle, underlease, undertenancy, usucapion, vendetta, vengeance, venom, vested estate, villein socage, villeinhold, villenage, virulence, vitriol, wage war, war, words, wrangle, wrestle
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