Definitions

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Race; family; ancestry; noble ancestry; nobility; honor.
  • Noble; illustrious; excellent.
  • noun A noble; a chief; often simply a man.

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

  • adjective Noble; illustrious
  • noun obsolete A chief or lord.
  • noun Scotland A prince or noble.

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English athel, hathel ("noble", also "nobleman, hero"), from Old English æþele ("noble, eminent, aristocratic, excellent, famous, glorious, splendid, fine, costly, valuable, vigorous, lusty, young, pleasant, sweet-smelling, natural, congenial, suitable"), from Proto-Germanic *aþalaz, *aþaljaz, *aþiluz (“noble, of noble birth”), from Proto-Indo-European *Àtos (“father”), *atta (“mother”). Akin to Old Frisian eþel, Dutch edel, German edel. Middle English form hathel due to conflation with Old English hæleþ ("hero"). See heleth.

Examples

  • The element ‘athel, aethel’ literally translates as ‘noble’, so the term is often translated as ‘nobleman’, but that doesn’t carry the royal element of the original’s meaning.

    Archive 2006-08-01

  • The element ‘athel, aethel’ literally translates as ‘noble’, so the term is often translated as ‘nobleman’, but that doesn’t carry the royal element of the original’s meaning.

    Archaic terminology in historical fiction

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