gran·​dee | \gran-ˈdē \

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


gentleman, lord, milord, nobleman, peer

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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

The biggest party in PH, in contrast, is the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), which is proudly multiracial, although led by another former UMNO grandee, Anwar Ibrahim. The Economist, "Malaysia’s ruling party may be gone, but its racial policies survive," 7 June 2018 The Sun on Saturday said Tory grandees have a plan to replace May with Environment Secretary Michael Gove, another Brexit campaigner, when Brexit happens next March. Brian Swint,, "Rees-Mogg Says He Doesn't Want to Be Prime Minister," 27 May 2018 The role usually goes to grandee of the City of London, the financial district. David Goodman,, "Bank of England Has Big Governing Job to Fill Before Carney Goes," 16 Apr. 2018 Cabbage, brains, pickles and puff pastry follow in the dining room, dished out by a timid floor boy who also furnishes a menu of marks: local grandees with large estates and many serfs. Julian Lucas, New York Times, "The Russian Comic Writer Who’s an Antidote to Mad Times," 2 May 2018 Sir William Cash, another Eurosceptic grandee, recalls tutoring the young Jacob in the cause. The Economist, "Jacob Rees-Mogg, pinstriped populist," 1 Feb. 2018 State Department grandees tended to see these White House advisers as rivals. James R. Hagerty, WSJ, "Francis Bator, Hungarian Refugee, Advised Lyndon Johnson on Economics and Europe," 30 Mar. 2018 What mattered to the English grandees was that James was a Protestant, saving England from the worst of the religious warfare that was ravaging the rest of Europe. Paul Hoggart, Newsweek, "If Scotland Breaks Free, Queen Elizabeth Could Speak for Two Countries at Once," 31 Aug. 2014 On the same day, two of the other grandees of English football, Manchester United and Chelsea, meet at Old Trafford. Jonathan Wilson,, "Seminal Sunday: Stakes High for Man City, Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea," 23 Feb. 2018

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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to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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