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


gentleman, lord, milord, nobleman, peer

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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

Goelet was a grandee, one of the Four Hundred certifiably rich families in New York. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "Silver Sailing Cups Recall Gilded Age Glamour and Sexuality," 29 June 2019 The corridor transitioned to commercial and industrial development and later fell into decay after the city’s grandees decamped for the city’s eastern suburbs and pulled down most of the mansions. Steven Litt,, "Cleveland Foundation plans to relocate from Playhouse Square to Midtown, despite legal tussle over site," 28 June 2019 And on her first mission, this overqualified woman joins H for a night of hedonism diplomacy, showing some sluggy alien grandee a good time in a London nightclub. Darren Franich,, "Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson reunite for eerily bland Men in Black: International: EW review," 12 June 2019 Ending or No Happy Ending, by Nadine H. The guest list, which includes grandees from politics, journalism, business, and art, is strikingly cosmopolitan. Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, "Can Egypt Convince the World That It Is Starting Over?," 19 Mar. 2019 President Trump’s decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights has foreign-policy grandees furious. Elliot Kaufman, WSJ, "Trump’s Golan Strategy," 27 Mar. 2019 While Mr Abe was visiting America this week, some LDP grandees met for dinner, which the press interpreted as an incipient plot. The Economist, "The cabals Japan’s prime minister has tried to curb may curb him," 19 Apr. 2018 For more than 40 years this fabled property has fueled the imaginations of grandees only to foil their plans, as foreign royals, entertainment moguls, and billionaire entrepreneurs have all failed to break ground. Alex Bhattacharji, Town & Country, "An Empty Lot Above Beverly Hills Is the Most Expensive Real Estate in the World," 17 Jan. 2019 And all of them are just as much in karmic thrall as the grandees who came before them, undone by ambition, rashness and cosmic retribution. Daniel Akst, WSJ, "‘The Hazards of Good Fortune’ Review: An Unforgiven Overreacher," 5 Oct. 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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Statistics for grandee

Last Updated

9 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for grandee

The first known use of grandee was in 1593

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More from Merriam-Webster on grandee

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with grandee

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for grandee Encyclopedia article about grandee

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