noblesse oblige

play
noun no·blesse oblige \nō-ˈbles-ə-ˈblēzh\

Definition of noblesse oblige

  1. :  the obligation of honorable, generous, and responsible behavior associated with high rank or birth

noblesse oblige was our Word of the Day on 06/06/2015. Hear the podcast!

Examples of noblesse oblige in a sentence

  1. He was raised to have a strong sense of noblesse oblige.

Did You Know?

In French, "noblesse oblige" means literally "nobility obligates." French speakers transformed the phrase into a noun, which English speakers picked up in the 19th century. Then, as now, "noblesse oblige" referred to the unwritten obligation of people from a noble ancestry to act honorably and generously to others. Later, by extension, it also came to refer to the obligation of anyone who is in a better position than others - due, for example, to high office or celebrity - to act respectably and responsibly.

Origin and Etymology of noblesse oblige

French, literally, nobility obligates


First Known Use: 1837


NOBLESSE OBLIGE Defined for English Language Learners

noblesse oblige

play
noun no·blesse oblige \nō-ˈbles-ə-ˈblēzh\

Definition of noblesse oblige for English Language Learners

  • : the idea that people who have high social rank or wealth should be helpful and generous to people of lower rank or to people who are poor


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up noblesse oblige? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

a frightening dream

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • manet-jeanne-spring
  • Which is a synonym of chaffer?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!