Definitions

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

  • n. A class of persons distinguished by high birth or rank and in Great Britain including dukes and duchesses, marquises and marchionesses, earls and countesses, viscounts and viscountesses, and barons and baronesses: "The old English nobility of office made way for the Norman nobility of faith and landed wealth” ( Winston S. Churchill).
  • n. Noble rank or status: Congress may not grant titles of nobility.
  • n. The state or quality of being exalted in character.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A noble or privileged social class, historically accompanied by a hereditary title; aristocracy.
  • n. The quality of being noble.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The quality or state of being noble; superiority of mind or of character; commanding excellence; eminence.
  • n. The state of being of high rank or noble birth; patrician dignity; antiquity of family; distinction by rank, station, or title, whether inherited or conferred.
  • n. Those who are noble; the collective body of nobles or titled persons in a state; the aristocratic and patrician class; the peerage.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The character of being noble; nobleness; dignity of mind; that elevation of soul which comprehends bravery, generosity, magnanimity, intrepidity, and contempt of everything that dishonors character; loftiness of tone; greatness; grandeur.
  • n. Social or political preëminence, usually accompanied by special hereditary privileges, founded on hereditary succession or descent; eminence or dignity derived by inheritance from illustrious ancestors, or specially conferred by sovereign authority.
  • n. A body of persons enjoying the privileges of nobility.

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

  • n. a privileged class holding hereditary titles
  • n. the state of being of noble birth
  • n. the quality of elevation of mind and exaltation of character or ideals or conduct

Etymologies

Middle English nobilite, the quality of being noble, from Old French, from Latin nōbilitās, from nōbilis, noble; see noble.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

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