from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A British nobleman next in rank above a viscount and below a marquis, corresponding to a count in continental Europe.
  • noun Used as a title for such a nobleman.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A British title of nobility designating a nobleman of the third rank, being that next below a marquis and next above a viscount.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A nobleman of England ranking below a marquis, and above a viscount. The rank of an earl corresponds to that of a count (comte) in France, and graf in Germany. Hence the wife of an earl is still called countess. See count.
  • noun (Zoöl.), Ireland The needlefish.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A British nobleman next in rank above a viscount and below a marquess; equivalent to a European count. A female using the style is termed a countess.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a British peer ranking below a marquess and above a viscount


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English erl, nobleman of high rank, from Old English eorl.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English erl, from Old English eorl, from *erlaz (compare Old Norse jarl, Old Saxon/Old High German erl), from *erōnan, *arōnan (compare Old Norse jara 'fight, battle'), from Proto-Indo-European *h₁er- (compare Latin orior 'to rise, get up', Ancient Greek órnēmi 'to urge, incite', Avestan ərənaoiti 'to move', Sanskrit ṛṇóti 'to arise, reach, move, attack').


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word earl.


  • May 10, 2005 at 11: 22 AM earl is that way - only with guitars - we have guitars everywhere ...

    He did it again

  • And then she called the earl a number of names that Pearson had never before heard uttered by a lady … and he was using that term in its loosest vernacular.

    LADY of SKYE

  • Intolerable enough, perhaps, to drive title earl to another sort of revenge.

    Captives Of The Night

  • The earl is pursuing him now, not only as his daughter's seducer, but as a swindler and a thief.

    John Halifax, Gentleman

  • Even your name, too-generous earl, is in the horrid catalogue.

    The Scottish Chiefs

  • "I wished to learn its most pregnable part," replied Edwin, his young heart beating with triumph at these encomiums from his commander; "and particularly where the good earl is confined that we might make our attack directly to the point."

    The Scottish Chiefs

  • In pursuance of his usurping commission, the earl is now marching rapidly towards the Lothians, in the hope of intercepting you in your progress.

    The Scottish Chiefs

  • Her own instincts told her that the earl was a complex individual, formed by a tragedy and by the isolation of his home.

    One Night in Scotland

  • Would Mr. Hay stay here if the earl were an evil man?

    One Night in Scotland

  • The earl is a quiet man, but he has a quick temper.

    One Night in Scotland


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Duke of Earl by Gene Chandler. Moment of silence...

    February 9, 2008

  • Goodbye Earl, Dixie Chicks, 1999

    February 10, 2008