- 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
- a male given name: from the old English word meaning “noble.”
Examples from the Web for earl
Earl Spencer adds, “Effectively, my great-grandfather sold his children to his father-in-law.”The Real-Life ‘Downton’ Millionairesses Who Changed Britain
December 31, 2014
The earl was killed in battle and Marshal captured, but he would later be ransomed by the queen herself.England’s Greatest Knight Puts ‘Game of Thrones’ to Shame
December 9, 2014
At no time during the shoot was Viscount Severn directly in front of the Earl of Wessex.Prince Charles Photographed Shooting, Charges of Animal Cruelty and Royal Hypocrisy Reignited
December 1, 2014
Other contributing writers on the original series included Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, and Earl Hamner, Jr.How a War-Weary Vet Created ‘The Twilight Zone’
November 13, 2014
His family used it for many years until they sold it to William Keppel, 7th Earl of Albemarle.Our Hero! Morning Sickness Stricken Kate Middleton Rides In a 200 Year Old Carriage
October 21, 2014
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
"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.
I didn't think it necessary to correct him as to my refusal of the Earl.
- (in the British Isles) a nobleman ranking below a marquess and above a viscountFemale equivalent: countess
- (in Anglo-Saxon England) a royal governor of any of the large divisions of the kingdom, such as Wessex
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.)).