pa·​tri·​cian | \ pə-ˈtri-shən How to pronounce patrician (audio) \
plural patricians

Definition of patrician

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a member of one of the original citizen families of ancient Rome
2a : a person of high birth : aristocrat one of the most nobly born of English patricians— Sam Schulman
b : a person of breeding and cultivation a tall patrician … who looked as if she was accustomed to serving on boards and making important decisions— J. A. Michener



Definition of patrician (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : of, relating to, having, or characterized by high birth, rank, or station : aristocratic a patrician family But coming from a long patrician line of New England gentry … he is vulnerable to the populist card that his rivals are playing hard.— Peter Oborne More common than middle-class organizations in the mid-nineteenth century, however, were the exclusive patrician male enclaves, such as Boston's Somerset club …— Howard P. Chudacoff
b : associated with or characteristic of people of high social rank his patrician bearing a stately, patrician residence … they spent freely on virtually everything that could be acquired to accommodate a patrician life-style.— Simon Schama … some visitors may prefer the more patrician comfort of hotels in L'Aquila.— Niccolò Vivarelli
2 : of or relating to a member of one of the original citizen families of ancient Rome … his pride was gratified by the choice of Nomius and Anatolius, two ministers of consular or patrician rank …— Edward Gibbon

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for patrician

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did you know?

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.

Examples of patrician in a Sentence

Noun the Southern patricians who once resided in these stately plantation homes
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Published in German during the 15th century, it was then said to describe the pilgrimage of Gabriel Muffel, son of a Nuremburg patrician. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, 10 Jan. 2020 People around town have never much cared for caricatures of the place—the starchy patricians, the chinless wonders, the history of exclusion—even when there is truth in them. Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, 3 May 2020 For the dearth, / The gods, not the patricians, make it, and / Your knees to them, not arms, must help. James Shapiro, The New Yorker, 8 Apr. 2020 Belgravia, named for the tony London neighborhood still home to Britain's most affluent patricians, begins in Brussels on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Robyn Bahr, The Hollywood Reporter, 10 Apr. 2020 In practice, the plebeians (the general citizenry) had fewer voting rights than the aristocratic patricians. National Geographic, 4 Nov. 2019 In ancient Rome, the wealthy patricians ran the empire. Bret Stetka, Scientific American, 11 Oct. 2019 Bateman also suggested that orchids were nature’s green patricians. Katy Kelleher, Longreads, 9 Oct. 2019 Over the show’s first four seasons, the onetime patrician, played by Catherine O’Hara, lost her friends, her acting prestige, and a handful of her beloved wigs. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, 21 Sep. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of patrician


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1533, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for patrician


Middle English patricion, from Anglo-French patrician, from Latin patricius, from patres senators, from plural of pater father — more at father

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About patrician

Time Traveler for patrician

Time Traveler

The first known use of patrician was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for patrician

Cite this Entry

“Patrician.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for patrician



English Language Learners Definition of patrician

formal : a person who is a member of the highest social class


Test Your Vocabulary

Return of Name that Color!

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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