gran·​dee | \ gran-ˈdē How to pronounce grandee (audio) \

Definition of grandee

: a man of elevated rank or station especially : a Spanish or Portuguese nobleman of the first rank

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Synonyms for grandee


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In Medieval Spain and Portugal, the "grandes" ("great ones," from Latin grandis, meaning "great") were at the pinnacle of the ranks of rich and powerful nobles. A grandee (as it came to be spelled in English) could wear a hat in the presence of the king and queen - the height of privilege - and he alone could address a letter directly to royalty. (Even Christopher Columbus had to direct his reports of the New World to an important noble at court, who read them to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.) Today the term can still be applied to nobility, but it can also be used for anyone of importance and influence anywhere, such as the "pin-striped grandees of London's financial district."

Examples of grandee in a Sentence

only a Spanish grandee—and no one of lesser rank—can address comments to the king and queen of Spain
Recent Examples on the Web One is a grandee of Wall Street dealmaking, the other a scion of Goldman Sachs. Sonali Basak,, 19 Nov. 2020 In 1911, the land was purchased by E. Bartlett Hayward, a local grandee whose fortune was derived from casting 75-millimeter shell casings for French field guns during World War I. James Tarmy,, 19 Aug. 2020 The event attracts the world’s most important lawmakers and wealthiest people and this year at least 119 billionaires are converging to join bankers, politicians and other grandees for their pilgrimage. Suzy Waite,, 10 May 2020 The new setup would be approved by a party conference in December, but that time frame was quickly assailed by party grandees who said a new leader should be found sooner. Arne Delfs,, 5 May 2020 Data Trust, a private company controlled by a board of Republican grandees, provided much of the raw material behind the Republicans’ digital-messaging advantage in 2016. Danny Hakimand Glenn Thrush,, 9 Mar. 2020 First came allies from his two terms as mayor of London, such as Sir Edward Lister, a local-government grandee. The Economist, 25 July 2019 Charter liberal grandees like Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who cannot be accused of racial animus toward blacks, worried that welfare was passing dependency from one generation to the next in some poor black families. Michael Ignatieff, New York Times, 6 Apr. 2020 Party grandees are growing concerned that the socialist who until recently wasn’t even a Democrat could roll to the nomination. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 7 Feb. 2020

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

1593, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for grandee

Spanish grande, from grande, adjective, large, great, from Latin grandis

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The first known use of grandee was in 1593

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Cite this Entry

“Grandee.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jun. 2021.

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