noun, plural dig·ni·tar·ies.

a person who holds a high rank or office, as in the government or church.

Origin of dignitary

First recorded in 1665–75; dignit(y) + -ary
Related formsdig·ni·tar·i·al [dig-ni-tair-ee-uh l] /ˌdɪg nɪˈtɛər i əl/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for dignitary

celebrity, luminary, VIP, official, star, bigwig

Examples from the Web for dignitary

Contemporary Examples of dignitary

Historical Examples of dignitary

  • But what dignitary is this crossing from the other side to greet the governor?

    Main Street

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • He passed the knife on to the dignitary who stood behind his chair.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • His grandfather (I think) was a dignitary of a kind, the Syndic of the Pilots.

    Some Reminiscences

    Joseph Conrad

  • A dignitary, as you call it, is not to see his child robbed of her rights.

    Is He Popenjoy?

    Anthony Trollope

  • No ordinary King's messenger, then, but some dignitary of the Court.

    Long Live the King

    Mary Roberts Rinehart

British Dictionary definitions for dignitary


noun plural -taries

a person of high official position or rank, esp in government or the church
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

Word Origin and History for dignitary

1670s; see dignity + -ary. Related: Dignitaries (plural).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper