Definition of aristocracy
1 : government by the best individuals or by a small privileged class
2a : a government in which power is vested (see 2vest 1a) in a minority consisting of those believed to be best qualifiedb : 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
Examples of aristocracy in a Sentence
a member of the aristocracy
at one time in China only the aristocracy could own land
Recent Examples of aristocracy from the Web
This would not be disagreeable to the kaiser, who wishes for a restoration of the aristocracy almost as much as his delusional wife (Janet McTeer) does.
Trump was never a member of New York’s real-estate aristocracy.
On her father’s side, the family was descended from German aristocracy.
De Preposulo’s high-profile Italian family still uses the titles count and countess, although Italy no longer recognizes the aristocracy.
The documentary is based on letters and communiqués — Tilda Swinton is the voice of Bell — that follow her from the aristocracy and drizzle of Yorkshire, England, to the scoured, arid expanses of tribesmen, Bedouins and sheikhs.
The vast majority of French people lived as feudal peasants, forced to pay high taxes to the aristocracy with little opportunity for social mobility.
For Germans, the military aristocracy, or Junkers, were the owners and bestowers of this privilege.
The Dolchstoss pandered to the German military aristocracy.
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.
Origin and Etymology of aristocracy
Middle French & Late Latin; Middle French aristocratie, from Late Latin aristocratia, from Greek aristokratia, from aristos best + -kratia -cracy
First Known Use: 1561See Words from the same year
ARISTOCRACY Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of aristocracy for English Language Learners
: 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 Defined for Kids
Definition of aristocracy for Students
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
Learn More about aristocracy
See words that rhyme with aristocracy Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for aristocracy Spanish Central: Translation of aristocracy Nglish: Translation of aristocracy for Spanish speakers Britannica English: Translation of aristocracy for Arabic speakers Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about aristocracy
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up aristocracy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).