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

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 Becoming a playwright and theatrical grandee took time. Los Angeles Times, 1 Mar. 2022 Sam Waterston runs his gravitas off a cliff as George Shultz, the Nixon-Reagan grandee who becomes Holmes' sternest defender. Darren Franich,, 25 Feb. 2022 Reputedly the illegitimate son of a Medici grandee and an African servant, Alessandro had been declared the first duke of the Florentine Republic at twenty-one. Susan Tallman, The New York Review of Books, 19 Aug. 2021 McCarthy, who has voted in favor of preserving NSA surveillance authorities, might be dismissed as a cynical opportunist trying to show his support for a right-wing grandee. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, 2 July 2021 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 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near grandee

grande dame


grande écaille

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Cite this Entry

“Grandee.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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