Definitions

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

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. 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.
  • n. The needlefish.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

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

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

  • n. a British peer ranking below a marquess and above a viscount

Etymologies

Middle English erl, nobleman of high rank, from Old English eorl.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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'). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • 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

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Comments

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  • Goodbye Earl, Dixie Chicks, 1999

    February 10, 2008

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

    February 9, 2008