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noblesse oblige

[noh-bles oh-bleezh; French naw-bles aw-bleezh] /noʊˈblɛs oʊˈbliʒ; French nɔˈblɛs ɔˈbliʒ/
the moral obligation of those of high birth, powerful social position, etc., to act with honor, kindliness, generosity, etc.
Origin of noblesse oblige
1830-40; < French: literally, nobility obliges Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for noblesse oblige
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • James, perhaps least of all the Stuarts, illustrated the principle of noblesse oblige.

    Andrew Melville William Morison
  • noblesse oblige, my dear, and you have proved it so to-night.

    The Lady and the Pirate Emerson Hough
  • The negative side of noblesse oblige is more important than the positive.


    William Graham Sumner
  • But noblesse oblige, and we must serve those who have not had our good fortune.

  • I agree with you, too, that our race should not close in me,—noblesse oblige.

    My Novel, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • This is the true meaning of that finest of all old sayings, “noblesse oblige.”

    Three Things Elinor Glyn
  • They missed something of the noblesse oblige which was to them as a matter of course.

    A Dixie School Girl Gabrielle E. Jackson
British Dictionary definitions for noblesse oblige

noblesse oblige

/nəʊˈblɛs əʊˈbliːʒ; French nɔblɛs ɔbliʒ/
(often ironic) the supposed obligation of nobility to be honourable and generous
Word Origin
French, literally: nobility obliges
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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noblesse oblige in Culture
noblesse oblige [(noh-bles oh-bleezh)]

The belief that the wealthy and privileged are obliged to help those less fortunate. From French, meaning “nobility obligates.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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