Definitions

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

  • n. Noble birth or condition.
  • n. The members of the nobility, especially the French nobility.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The quality of being noble; nobleness.
  • n. The nobility; peerage.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Noble birth or condition; nobility; greatness; nobleness.
  • n. The nobility; persons of noble rank collectively; specifically, same as nobility, 3 .

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

  • n. the state of being of noble birth
  • n. members of the nobility (especially of the French nobility)

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, from noble, noble, from Latin nōbilis; see noble.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Anglo-Norman noblesse, noblesce et al., Old French noblace, nobleche et al., from noble ("noble"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Miüsov, my relation, prefers to have _plus de noblesse que de sincérité_ in his words, but I prefer in mine _plus de sincérité que de noblesse_, and — damn the _noblesse_!

    The Brothers Karamazov

  • The drawing-room, which was called the salle de compagnie, was used only on ceremonious occasions, Easter, the bishop's visit, or when the noblesse from the surrounding country called, and the proudest among them were proud to do so.

    A Childhood in Brittany Eighty Years Ago

  • There is an antiquated concept called noblesse oblige.

    Steve Malkenson: The New York Yankees And Christian Lopez: Noblesse Oblige Is Dead

  • When I first joined I learned from a senior the [French] phrase noblesse oblige, which I understood to mean not shirking the responsibilities of your position.

    The Importance of Acting with Noblesse Oblige

  • I saw a few people belonging to the Court, many others whose features were unknown to me, and a few who figured technically without right among what was called the noblesse, but whose self-devotion ennobled them at once.

    Court Memoirs of France Series — Complete

  • My father was of a wealthy bourgeois family of Landerneau, and it must have been his happy character and love of sport rather than his wealth – he was master of hounds and always kept the pack – that made him popular in Quimper, for the gulf between the bourgeoisie and the noblesse was almost impassable.

    A Childhood in Brittany Eighty Years Ago

  • He takes us to a tea party attended by "the higher classes or noblesse, that is to say such as kept their own cows and drove their own wagons," where we can see the damsels knitting their own woolen stockings and the vrouws serving big apple pies, bushels of doughnuts, and pouring tea out of a fat Delft teapot.

    History of American Literature

  • The classes in which the national spirit of Poland lived were the so-called noblesse, numbering hundreds of thousands, the town populations, and the priesthood.

    A History of Modern Europe, 1792-1878

  • The French have witnessed a debate characterized by a noblesse often lacking on the left.

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

  • I know nothing of my ch ` ere patrie, but what I learn from the London Chronicle; and that tells me, that the trading towns are suing out lettres de noblesse, that is, entreating the King to put an end to commerce, that they may all be gentlemen.

    The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford — Volume 4

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

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