Earl

or Earle

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British Dictionary definitions for earle

earl

noun
  1. (in the British Isles) a nobleman ranking below a marquess and above a viscountFemale equivalent: countess
  2. (in Anglo-Saxon England) a royal governor of any of the large divisions of the kingdom, such as Wessex

Word Origin for earl

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

Word Origin and History for earle

earl

n.

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