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

Could be, if Cliff were not portrayed with such charming tough-guy chivalry. Los Angeles Times, "Column: ‘Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood’ is Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Make America Great Again’," 31 July 2019 The Duke of Cambridge's chivalry also gave us déjà vu. Nicole Saunders, Harper's BAZAAR, "Just a Bunch of Photos of Kate Middleton and Prince William Being Cute at the Royal Ascot," 18 June 2019 In April, the Sentinel reported that Ziegler uses a British title in front of her name — insisting school employees and documents refer to her as Lady Dhyana Ziegler — and claims knighthood from an ancient order of chivalry. Beth Kassab,, "Florida Virtual School set to get new leader picked by Board of Education," 28 June 2019 The sash signifies her position as a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, the highest ranking of chivalry personally awarded by Queen Elizabeth for being in her service., "Why Kate Middleton Was Wearing a Blue Sash to the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace," 4 June 2019 The queen has appointed Kate Middleton a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO), the highest rank in a form of chivalry personally granted by the sovereign to recognize one's service. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Queen Honors Kate Middleton with a High Rank in Chivalry," 29 Apr. 2019 In the painting, the Queen wears her velvet green grand ceremonial robes, along with the Order of Thistle collar, featuring a pendant of St. Andrews (which is the highest order of chivalry in Scotland, according to The Cut). Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Queen Elizabeth Looks Amazingly Regal in Her New Royal Portrait," 2 Dec. 2018 The oil painting by artist Nicky Philipps shows Her Majesty looking very regal in ceremonial robes and Order of Thistle collar, which features a pendant of St. Andrews — the highest order of chivalry in Scotland, says People. Isabel Greenberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "Queen Elizabeth II Has a Regal New Portrait in Scotland," 30 Nov. 2018 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

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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Chivalric rite






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Last Updated

4 Sep 2019

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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 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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one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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