chiv·​al·​ry | \ ˈshi-vəl-rē How to pronounce chivalry (audio) \
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 Nikolai Fadeyechev, one of the Bolshoi Ballet’s greatest dancers, who was hailed for his distinctive noble style and his chivalry as a partner to the Russian company’s leading ballerinas from the 1950s to the ’70s, died June 23 in Moscow. Anna Kisselgoff,, "Nikolai Fadeyechev, elegant Bolshoi dancer," 5 July 2020 Nikolai Fadeyechev, one of the Bolshoi Ballet’s greatest dancers, who was hailed for his distinctively noble style and his chivalry as a partner to the company’s leading ballerinas from the 1950s to the ’70s, died on June 23 in Moscow. Anna Kisselgoff, New York Times, "Nikolai Fadeyechev, Elegant Bolshoi Dancer, Is Dead at 87," 4 July 2020 Your act of contagion chivalry makes me miss you even more. Lisa J. Wise, New York Times, "To My Husband in Quarantine on Day 18," 13 Apr. 2020 Quell any impulse to hold open the refrigerator-section glass door for someone; chivalry is dead for now. Rachel Levin,, "Pandemiquette: A guide to manners in the age of coronavirus," 27 Mar. 2020 Lucy Worsley traces the history of romance, which on this week’s episode includes medieval chivalry but also love letters between average Victorian-era folks, the apparent codes with bouquets and the sublimated sexiness of séances. Margaret Lyons, New York Times, "How Much Watching Time Do You Have This Weekend?," 13 Feb. 2020 Benevolent sexism often resembles chivalry, Robnett says. Washington Post, "He said ‘yes’! Why aren’t more women proposing to their boyfriends?," 13 Dec. 2019 The sash signifies her position as a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, the highest ranking of chivalry personally awarded by the Queen for being in her service. Stephanie Petit,, "All About Kate Middleton's Sash and Medals Worn at Buckingham Palace Reception," 11 Dec. 2019 This accessory denotes the Royal Family Order, another form of chivalry that acknowledges one's service to the sovereign. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Wears Her Regal Honors from the Queen to Buckingham Palace," 11 Dec. 2019

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

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Cite this Entry

“Chivalry.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for chivalry


How to pronounce chivalry (audio)

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 How to pronounce chivalry (audio) \

Kids Definition of chivalry

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

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