ar·​is·​toc·​ra·​cy ˌa-rə-ˈstä-krə-sē How to pronounce aristocracy (audio)
plural aristocracies
: government by the best individuals or by a small privileged class
: a government in which power is vested (see vest entry 2 sense 1a) in a minority consisting of those believed to be best qualified
: a state with such a government
: a governing body or upper class usually made up of a hereditary nobility
a member of the British aristocracy
: a class or group of people believed to be superior (as in rank, wealth, or intellect)
an intellectual aristocracy

Examples of aristocracy in a Sentence

a member of the aristocracy at one time in China only the aristocracy could own land
Recent Examples on the Web Given its proximity to Rome, the villa may have belonged to a member of the Roman aristocracy. Brendan Rascius, Miami Herald, 31 May 2024 The aristocracy, the moneyed middle class and the working poor are set side by side to see which might have the generational advantage. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 23 May 2024 Each owns a refined elegance, where an Edwardian style of aristocracy is tempered with cream accents on walls beset with bespoke Parisian drapery. Brad Japhe, Travel + Leisure, 22 May 2024 From familial tensions and torrid love affairs to untimely deaths and societal shifts, the Crawleys provide a compelling look at the final days of aristocracy and their dying way of life in post-Edwardian England. Cady Lang, TIME, 16 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for aristocracy 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'aristocracy.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French aristocratie, from Late Latin aristocratia, from Greek aristokratia, from aristos best + -kratia -cracy

First Known Use

1561, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of aristocracy was in 1561

Dictionary Entries Near aristocracy

Cite this Entry

“Aristocracy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


ar·​is·​toc·​ra·​cy ˌar-ə-ˈstäk-rə-sē How to pronounce aristocracy (audio)
plural aristocracies
: a government run by a small class of people
: an upper class that is usually based on birth and is richer and more powerful than the rest of society
: persons thought to be better than the rest of the community

More from Merriam-Webster on aristocracy

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