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

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Synonyms for patrician

Synonyms: Noun

aristocrat, blue blood, gentle, gentleperson, noble

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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


the Southern patricians who once resided in these stately plantation homes

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Which is to say: The intellectual became a plebeian in part because the patricians abandoned their duty. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "A Herd Has No Mind," 11 July 2019 Today, a century after the progressive movement that inspired Kane and real-world patricians, class and inequality are once again at the center of American politics. Osita Nwanevu, The New Yorker, "Tom Steyer, the Democrats’ Billionaire for the People?," 14 July 2019 Lunsford was a smart and curious scholarship student, far from the patricians who dominated his Harvard class. Dallas News, "Appreciating John Lunsford, key in spurring Dallas Museum of Art's global reach," 3 July 2019 That is because the Roman Forum began as a market and became the place where patricians would meet plebeians and press the flesh. Ron Grossman,, "Even Socrates may have mourned the closing of Toys R Us," 26 Mar. 2018 Plebeians and patricians, their tribunes and senators, are checks and balances on one another. Ryan Shinkel, WSJ, "Twilight of the Ancient World," 21 July 2017 Also seeking the ancient riches, for sympathetic ends, is a gorgeous South Asian yoga practitioner (Disha Patani), and, for evil ones, an Indian patrician (Sonu Sood). Andy Webster, New York Times, "Review: ‘Kung Fu Yoga’ Features Jackie Chan Saving the Day," 26 Jan. 2017

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.

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First Known Use of patrician


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1533, in the meaning defined above

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

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Statistics for patrician

Last Updated

1 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for patrician

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

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English Language Learners Definition of patrician

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

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Comments on patrician

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


to spread over or through

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