Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun roy·al·ty \ˈrȯi(-ə)l-tē\

Simple Definition of royalty

  • : members of a royal family

  • : an amount of money that is paid to the original creator of a product, book, or piece of music based on how many copies have been sold

  • : an amount of money that is paid by a mining or oil company to the owner of the land the company is using

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of royalty

plural royalties

  1. 1 a :  royal status or power :  sovereignty b :  a right or perquisite of a sovereign (as a percentage paid to the crown of gold or silver taken from mines)

  2. 2 :  regal character or bearing :  nobility

  3. 3 a :  persons of royal lineage b :  a person of royal rank <how to address royalties — George Santayana> c :  an elite class

  4. 4 :  a right of jurisdiction granted to an individual or corporation by a sovereign

  5. 5 a :  a share of the product or profit reserved by the grantor especially of an oil or mining lease b :  a payment to an author or composer for each copy of a work sold or to an inventor for each item sold under a patent

Examples of royalty in a sentence

  1. It was an honor and a privilege to dine with royalty.

  2. On our wedding day, we were treated like royalty.

Origin of royalty

Middle English roialte, from Anglo-French realté, roialté, from real

First Known Use: 14th century

ROYALTY Defined for Kids


noun roy·al·ty \ˈrȯi-əl-tē\

Definition of royalty for Students

plural royalties

  1. 1 :  the status or power of a king or queen or his or her family

  2. 2 :  members of the royal family of a king or queen

  3. 3 :  a share of a product or profit (as of a mine) claimed by the owner for allowing another to use the property

  4. 4 :  payment made to the owner of a patent or copyright for the use of it

Law Dictionary


noun roy·al·ty

Legal Definition of royalty

plural royalties

  1. 1 :  a right delegated (as to an individual or corporation) by a sovereign

  2. 2a :  a share of the profit or product reserved by the grantor esp. of an oil or mineral lease — compare overriding royalty b :  a payment made to an author or composer for each copy of a work sold or to an inventor for each article sold under a patent

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up royalty? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a smart aleck

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of these is a synonym of unctuous?

oily maudlin prompt angry
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.