Definition of patrician
- one of the most nobly born of English patricians
- —Sam Schulman
- a tall patrician … who looked as if she was accustomed to serving on boards and making important decisions
- —J. A. Michener
the Southern patricians who once resided in these stately plantation homes
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A patrician was originally a descendant of one of the original citizen families of ancient Rome. Until about 350 B.C., only patricians could hold the office of senator, consul, or pontifex (priest). Later, the word was applied to members of the nobility created by the Roman emperor Constantine. As time went by, other nobles, such as those in medieval Italian republics and in German city-states, also came to be known as patricians. Today someone's appearance, manners, or tastes can be described as patrician, whether the person is actually of high birth or not. The actress Grace Kelly, an immigrant's daughter, was admired for her patrician beauty even before she became Princess Grace of Monaco, with classic features worthy of ancient Rome's finest sculptors.
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