1. The tie or obligation, implied or expressed, which a subject owes to his sovereign or government; the duty of fidelity to one's king, government, or state.

2. Devotion; loyalty; as, allegiance to science.

Synonyms: Loyalty, fealty.

Allegiance, Loyalty. These words agree in expressing the general idea of fidelity and attachment to the "powers that be." Allegiance is an obligation to a ruling power. Loyalty is a feeling or sentiment towards such power. Allegiance may exist under any form of government, and, in a republic, we generally speak of allegiance to the government, to the state, etc. In well conducted monarchies, loyalty is a warm-hearted feeling of fidelity and obedience to the sovereign. It is personal in its nature; and hence we speak of the loyalty of a wife to her husband, not of her allegiance. In cases where we personify, loyalty is more commonly the word used; as, loyalty to the constitution; loyalty to the cause of virtue; loyalty to truth and religion, etc. "Hear me, recreant, on thine allegiance hear me!" (Shak) "So spake the Seraph Abdiel, faithful found, . . . Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified, His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal." (Milton)

Origin: OE. Alegeaunce; pref. A- + OF. Lige, liege. The meaning was influenced by L. Ligare to bind, and even by lex, legis, law. See Liege, Ligeance.

(01 Mar 1998)

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