AskDefine | Define fisc

Dictionary Definition

F.I.S.C. n : a secret federal court created in 1978 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act; responsible for authorizing wiretaps and other forms of electronic surveillance and for authorizing searches of suspected spies and terrorists by the Department of Justice or United States intelligence agencies [syn: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court]fisc n : a state treasury or exchequer or a royal treasury; originally the public treasury of Rome or the emperor's private purse

User Contributed Dictionary



From French fisc, from Latin fiscus.




  1. The public treasury of ancient Rome.
  2. Any state treasury or exchequer.

Old English


Germanic *fiskaz, from Indo-European *peisk-, pisk-. Germanic cognates include Old Frisian fisk, Old Saxon fisc (Dutch visch), Old High German fisc (German Fisch), Old Norse fiskr (Swedish fisk), Gothic 𐍆𐌹𐍃𐌺𐍃. The IE root is also the source of Latin piscis, Russian пискарь, Irish iasc.







Extensive Definition

Under the Merovingians and Carolingians, the fisc (Root word of "fiscal") applied to the royal demesne which paid taxes, entirely in kind, from which the royal household was meant to be supported, though it rarely was. Though their personal territory was at first enormous, the Merovingian kings, faced with stiff resistance to taxation from their Frankish and Gallo-Roman subjects and ill-served by their illiterate peers, relied on constant conquests to renew the fisc which they were in the habit of granting away, to ensure continued fidelity among their followers. Once fresh Frankish conquests were no longer forthcoming, constant redivision of the "fisc" among male heirs reduced Merovingian kingship to a cluster of competitive kinglets subsisting on inadequate resources. Annual contributions in kind, of grain, produce, fodder, was unwieldy to transport and not easily convertible, so the restless habit of Merovingian kings moving from stronghold to stronghold, was constantly encouraged.
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