chiv·​al·​ry | \ ˈshi-vəl-rē \
plural chivalries

Definition of chivalry

1 : mounted men-at-arms … the eleven kings with their chivalry never turned back …— Thomas Malory

2 archaic

a : martial (see martial sense 1) valor
b : knightly skill
3 : gallant or distinguished gentlemen … Belgium's capital had gathered then her beauty and her chivalry— Lord Byron
4 : the system, spirit, or customs of medieval knighthood but Lancelot on him urged all the devisings of their chivalry— Alfred Tennyson
5 : the qualities of the ideal knight : chivalrous conduct chivalry demanded of him that he be conspicuous through his gallant, courteous, and generous behavior— H. W. Van Loon

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Did You Know?

In days of old when knights were bold, Anglo-French speakers used the word chevaler (an ancestor of our word chevalier) for a knight or horseman. By the 14th century, English speakers had adopted the slightly modified spelling "chivalry" to describe their own well-armored, mounted warriors. Nowadays, when we say that chivalry is not dead, we are alluding to the high standard of character and conduct typically associated with gallant knights. If you trace "chevaler" back to Late Latin, you'll find that it derives from "caballarius," which is also the ancestor of another term for a daring medieval gentleman-at-arms: "cavalier."

Examples of chivalry in a Sentence

the knight's code of chivalry He paid her fare as an act of chivalry.

Recent Examples on the Web

Back in January, she was granted the Order of the Golden Fleece, one of the country's highest ranks of chivalry. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "13-Year-Old Princess Leonor of Spain Gave Her First Royal Speech," 1 Nov. 2018 But outfit aside, the standout element of the look was chivalry. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Bella Hadid’s Hot Bodyguard is Back—This Time, Carrying Her Fendi Bag," 29 May 2018 But when a woman stands upon the level of equality and attempts to lift this sort of admirer to her own noble plane, this champion quickly ...drops his mask of chivalry, and frowns upon her. Olivia Campbell, Smithsonian, "The Historical Struggle to Rid Socialism of Sexism," 12 July 2018 He is upbraided for this by Athos, who places chivalry above all else. Tobias Grey, WSJ, "Alexandre Dumas’s Brotherly Love," 16 Mar. 2018 The ceremony takes place every other year to celebrate the highest honor of chivalry in Scotland, which recognizes men and women for their public service, according to the official royal website. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince William's Super Ornate Outfit in Scotland Is Full of Royal Symbolism," 6 July 2018 The 92-year-old monarch was scheduled to attend a special church service to mark the bicentenary of an order of chivalry, according to People. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "The Queen Canceled a Public Appearance This Morning Because She's Sick," 28 June 2018 Don Quixote’ The National Ballet of the Ukraine, on tour in celebration of its 150th anniversary, presents Cervantes’ tale of nobility, illusions and a return to chivalry, put to glorious music and dance. Chris Kaltenbach,, "Ne-Yo, 'Don Quixote' and celebrating the savior of Little Italy: the best of this week's arts and entertainment scene in Baltimore," 27 May 2018 New-school thinking is that such chivalry can be condescending. Michelle Singletary,, "Who should foot the bill on the first date?," 1 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chivalry.' 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 chivalry

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for chivalry

Middle English chivalrie, from Anglo-French chevalerie, from chevaler knight — more at chevalier

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Dictionary Entries near chivalry


Chivalric rite






Statistics for chivalry

Last Updated

25 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for chivalry

The first known use of chivalry was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for chivalry



English Language Learners Definition of chivalry

: the system of values (such as loyalty and honor) that knights in the Middle Ages were expected to follow

: an honorable and polite way of behaving especially toward women


chiv·​al·​ry | \ ˈshi-vəl-rē \

Kids Definition of chivalry

1 : the system, spirit, ways, or customs of knighthood
2 : very honorable and courteous behavior

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More from Merriam-Webster on chivalry

Spanish Central: Translation of chivalry

Nglish: Translation of chivalry for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of chivalry for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about chivalry

Comments on chivalry

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to settle judicially or to act as judge

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