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
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'patrician.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
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.
: a person who is a member of the highest social class
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