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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Did You Know?

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 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,, "BlackRock’s Hildebrand Says Lawmakers Key to Climate Fight," 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,, "Merkel’s Succession Battle Kicks Off Ahead of Contender Talks," 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,, "How the Trump campaign took over the GOP’s fund-raising," 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, "Ditching the gags (and his enemies) Boris Johnson claims his prize," 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, "How Racism Is Destroying America," 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, "Democrats Demand a Recount," 7 Feb. 2020 Yet some party grandees thought the CDU in Thuringia should grit its teeth and prop up Mr Ramelow, an avuncular, charismatic type who has run the state competently since 2014. The Economist, "The splintering states A pact with the far right in Thuringia rattles German politics," 6 Feb. 2020 Ed Rendell, a Democratic Party grandee who has endorsed Biden, said their anxiety is justified. David M. Drucker, Washington Examiner, "'This guy has some guts': Democratic establishment eyes Bloomberg as Biden falters," 8 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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Time Traveler for grandee

Time Traveler

The first known use of grandee was in 1593

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Last Updated

10 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Grandee.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

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More from Merriam-Webster on grandee

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for grandee

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with grandee Encyclopedia article about grandee

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