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

This heretofore obscure provision of Article I had its origin in the distant mists of American history, when representatives of the young republic were seen as vulnerable to temptations offered by the wealthy grandees of Europe. Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker, "Trump’s Plan to Host the G-7 Revives the Issue of Emoluments," 5 Sep. 2019 Apparently only the African rank and file are so helpless as to require the tender mercies of the World Bank’s notorious grandees. William Easterly, WSJ, "‘The Levelling’ Review: Masters Versus the Masses," 17 June 2019 Among cinema’s understated grandees, Luddy will be at a Backlot double bill of the two shorts, shot in California. Lisa Kennedy, The Know, "Banderas, Zellweger, Scorsese, even Bill Gates — the 2019 Telluride Film Fest line-up is oh-so star-studded," 29 Aug. 2019 The slum kid who dressed like a British grandee had something of the scam artist about him. Benjamin Moser, Harper's magazine, "Regarding the Pen of Others," 19 Aug. 2019 On Beacon Hill, the grandees clutched their pearls and worried that Curley and the great unwashed who supported him would ruin the City on a Hill. Kevin Cullen,, "The nice lady from Beacon Hill and the Southie housewife," 8 Aug. 2019 Sometimes the mist clears to reveal solutions, but only those a grandee could love. William Easterly, WSJ, "‘The Levelling’ Review: Masters Versus the Masses," 17 June 2019 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

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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Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for grandee

The first known use of grandee was in 1593

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with grandee

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

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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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