- a class of persons holding exceptional rank and privileges, especially the hereditary nobility.
- a government or state ruled by an aristocracy, elite, or privileged upper class.
- government by those considered to be the best or most able people in the state.
- a governing body composed of those considered to be the best or most able people in the state.
- any class or group considered to be superior, as through education, ability, wealth, or social prestige.
Origin of aristocracy
Examples from the Web for aristocracy
Undoubtedly, the enormous inherited fortunes of the aristocracy facilitated a certain eccentricity.The Death of the English Eccentric
November 25, 2014
The British aristocracy is littered with stories of unmitigated spendthrifts who seem bent on self-destruction.The Secrets of Britain’s Wildest Aristocrats
October 20, 2014
Kennedy mixed socially with leading British figures, particularly among the aristocracy, who agreed with him.Blood and War: The Hard Truth About ‘Boots on the Ground’
September 22, 2014
Why, I wonder, is Davenport so obsessed with defining himself as part of the British aristocracy?'Lord Fraud' Gets Out of Jail, Back Into Orgies
August 26, 2014
Her father was a Viscount, so Taylor married into the Catalan aristocracy.Whit Stillman on the 20th Anniversary of ‘Barcelona’, His New Amazon Series, and the Myth of the Ugly Expat
August 10, 2014
He was sorry to see this tendency to aristocracy on the part of members.
Such wisdom was altogether above the English aristocracy of that or any time.The Man Shakespeare
Without an aristocracy, would there have been a middle class?Alice, or The Mysteries, Complete
The English aristocracy and the celebrities of London came to the inauguration.My Double Life
Living in a country where aristocracy does not exist, he had a high opinion of it.Alarms and Discursions
G. K. Chesterton
- a privileged class of people usually of high birth; the nobility
- such a class as the ruling body of a state
- government by such a class
- a state governed by such a class
- a class of people considered to be outstanding in a sphere of activity
Word Origin and History for aristocracy
1560s, from Middle French aristocracie (Modern French aristocratie), from Late Latin aristocratia, from Greek aristokratia "government or rule of the best," from aristos "best" (originally "most fitting," from PIE *ar-isto-, superlative form of *ar- "to fit together;" see arm (n.1)) + kratos "rule, power" (see -cracy).
At first in a literal sense of "government by those who are the best citizens;" meaning "rule by a privileged class" (best-born or best-favored by fortune) is from 1570s and became paramount 17c. Hence, the meaning "patrician order" (1650s). In early use contrasted with monarchy; after French and American revolutions, with democracy.
A privileged, primarily hereditary ruling class, or a form of government controlled by such an elite.