aristocracy

noun
ar·​is·​toc·​ra·​cy | \ ˌa-rə-ˈstä-krə-sē , ˌer-ə-\
plural aristocracies

Definition of aristocracy

1 : government by the best individuals or by a small privileged class
2a : a government in which power is vested (see vest entry 2 sense 1a) in a minority consisting of those believed to be best qualified
b : a state with such a government
3 : a governing body or upper class usually made up of a hereditary nobility a member of the British aristocracy
4 : a class or group of people believed to be superior (as in rank, wealth, or intellect) an intellectual aristocracy

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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

An edict issued by King Henry VIII of England in 1517, for example, dictated the maximum number of dishes allowed at a meal: nine for a cardinal, seven for the aristocracy and three for the gentry. Amanda Foreman, WSJ, "Unenforceable Laws Against Pleasure," 24 Jan. 2019 And yet these characters cling to an aristocracy that ceased to exist a century ago. Todd Vanderwerff, Vox, "The Romanoffs, from Mad Men creator Matt Weiner, feels like a period piece about the present," 12 Oct. 2018 And, although the aristocracy is no longer recognized by the Italian government, the Passi de Preposulo family still use their count and countess titles. Kayleigh Roberts, Harper's BAZAAR, "Who Is Gian Luca Passi de Preposulo? Here’s What You Need to Know About Jessica Chastain's New Husband," 10 June 2017 The stories also stemmed from the Russian aristocracy's general distaste for Alexandra, an outsider and the German granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Did Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, the Last Empress of Russia, Really Have an Affair With Rasputin?," 20 Oct. 2018 And so, a sofa that exemplified luxury and comfort was born—and quickly became a staple within the homes, businesses, and clubs of England’s aristocracy. Maggie Burch, House Beautiful, "Everything You Need To Know About The Classic Chesterfield Sofa," 26 Nov. 2018 Forward-thinking though his prose may have been, English writer Evelyn Waugh was a man who loved to look backward—at his debauched youth, at his spiritual journey, and at the erosion of the aristocracy, among other things. Adrienne Westenfeld, Town & Country, "T&C Family Album: Evelyn Waugh," 27 Mar. 2014 People with that background these days are, no matter their color or economic level, almost American aristocracy. Peggy Noonan, WSJ, "Melania’s Misstep and Michelle’s Mystery," 15 Nov. 2018 Spencer, who is a member of British aristocracy, is not in line to the throne. Stephanie Nolasco, Fox News, "Princess Diana's niece shocks in controversial photo shoot wearing marijuana necklace," 30 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'aristocracy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of aristocracy

1561, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for aristocracy

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

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Last Updated

31 Jan 2019

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The first known use of aristocracy was in 1561

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More Definitions for aristocracy

aristocracy

noun

English Language Learners Definition of aristocracy

: the highest social class in some countries : the people who have special titles (such as duke and duchess), who typically own land, and who traditionally have more money and power than the other people in a society

aristocracy

noun
ar·​is·​toc·​ra·​cy | \ ˌer-ə-ˈstä-krə-sē \
plural aristocracies

Kids Definition of aristocracy

1 : a government that is run by a small class of people
2 : an upper class that is usually based on birth and is richer and more powerful than the rest of a society
3 : people thought of as being better than the rest of the community

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