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[url] /ɜrl/
a British nobleman of a rank below that of marquis and above that of viscount: called count for a time after the Norman conquest. The wife of an earl is a countess.
(in Anglo-Saxon England) a governor of one of the great divisions of England, including East Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria, and Wessex.
Origin of earl
before 900; Middle English erl, Old English eorl; cognate with Old Saxon erl man, Old Norse jarl chieftain


or Earle

[url] /ɜrl/
a male given name: from the old English word meaning “noble.”. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for earl
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The latest proprietor of those times was James, earl of Derby.

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • "My aunt will treat the affair like the sensible woman she is," replied the earl.

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • "Nor for the honor of Scotland either," cried the earl of Angus.

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
  • I like him; I should like him even if he were not an earl—and his name a career.

    The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark
  • I didn't think it necessary to correct him as to my refusal of the earl.

    The Bacillus of Beauty Harriet Stark
British Dictionary definitions for earl


(in the British Isles) a nobleman ranking below a marquess and above a viscount Female equivalent countess
(in Anglo-Saxon England) a royal governor of any of the large divisions of the kingdom, such as Wessex
Word Origin
Old English eorl; related to Old Norse jarl chieftain, Old Saxon erl man
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for earl

Old English eorl "brave man, warrior, leader, chief" (contrasted with ceorl "churl"), from Proto-Germanic *erlo-z, of uncertain origin.

In Anglo-Saxon poetry, "a warrior, a brave man;" in later Old English, "nobleman," especially a Danish under-king (equivalent of cognate Old Norse jarl), then one of the viceroys under the Danish dynasty in England. After 1066 adopted as the equivalent of Latin comes (see count (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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