from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- adj. Noble; illustrious
- n. A chief or lord.
- n. A prince or noble.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- Noble; illustrious; excellent.
- n. A noble; a chief; often simply a man.
- n. Race; family; ancestry; noble ancestry; nobility; honor.
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. (Wiktionary)
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.