chivalry

noun

chiv·​al·​ry ˈshi-vəl-rē How to pronounce chivalry (audio)
plural chivalries
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

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.

Example Sentences

the knight's code of chivalry He paid her fare as an act of chivalry.
Recent Examples on the Web Back then, using forks to eat was not commonplace, so having the man of the manor slice the meat into bite-sized chunks for women and children to eat by hand was seen as a mark of chivalry. Terry Baddoo, USA TODAY, 17 Nov. 2022 Princess Anne has awarded Craig, 54, the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, a British order of chivalry founded in 1818. Nick Romano, EW.com, 18 Oct. 2022 When a member of the Swedish order of chivalry the Royal Order of the Seraphim dies, their coat of arms is hung from hung in the Riddarholmen Church, also known as Riddarholmskyrkan. Emily Burack, Town & Country, 20 Sep. 2022 She was awarded a CBE (a high order of British chivalry) in 1995 and the Queen’s Medal for Music in 2007. Michael Andor Brodeur, Washington Post, 15 Sep. 2022 And for his part, the former child actor got some flowers on social media too for his show of reverence and chivalry. Nardine Saad, Los Angeles Times, 13 Sep. 2022 Founded by Edward III in 1348, the prestigious Order of the Garter is the oldest and most senior British order of chivalry; the appointment was an unmistakable sign of the top royal's approval. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, 8 Sep. 2022 Described as a paragon of chivalry and honor, Harrold now essentially serves as the royal escort and bodyguard to Viserys' daughter, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen. Nick Romano, EW.com, 14 July 2022 Though earlier tellings emphasized Arthur’s strength in battle and nation-building skills, the tales eventually became part of the medieval romance tradition, wistfully yearning for a time of morality, chivalry and righteousness. Jane Recker, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 July 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English chevalerie, chivalerie, chevalrye, chyvalrie "body of mounted soldiers or knights serving an overlord, knights and their lords as a social class, warfare, feat of arms, values (as valor and generosity) constituting the code of knighthood," borrowed from Anglo-French chevalerie, chivalerie (also continental Old French), from chevaler, chivaler, chivalier "horseman, mounted soldier, knight" + -erie -ery — more at chevalier

Note: Regarding the pronunciation with initial \sh\ see note at chivalrous.

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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Dictionary Entries Near chivalry

Cite this Entry

“Chivalry.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/chivalry. Accessed 8 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

chivalry

noun
chiv·​al·​ry ˈshiv-əl-rē How to pronounce chivalry (audio)
1
: a body of knights
2
: the system, spirit, ways, or customs of knighthood
3
: chivalrous conduct
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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