[es-kwahyuh r, e-skwahyuh r]
  1. (initial capital letter) an unofficial title of respect, having no precise significance, sometimes placed, especially in its abbreviated form, after a man's surname in formal written address: in the U.S., usually applied to lawyers, women as well as men; in Britain, applied to a commoner considered to have gained the social position of a gentleman. Abbreviation: Esq.
  2. squire(def 2).
  3. a man belonging to the order of English gentry ranking next below a knight.
  4. Archaic. squire(def 1).
verb (used with object), es·quired, es·quir·ing.
  1. to raise to the rank of esquire.
  2. to address as “Esquire.”
  3. to escort or attend in public.

Origin of esquire

1425–75; late Middle English esquier < Middle French escuier < Latin scūtārius shield bearer, equivalent to scūt(um) (see scutage) + -ārius -ary Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for esquire

sir, man, Esquire, monsieur, signor

Examples from the Web for esquire

Contemporary Examples of esquire

Historical Examples of esquire

  • If the Esquire were to be snipped once and for ever from the tail of my name I should be the lighter for it.

  • We have just returned this morning from visiting Mrs. Esquire Lee.

  • Esquire does not mean squire, and esq. does not mean anything.

  • Then would follow two or three local worthies with Esquire after their names.

    Elsie Venner

    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

  • They had now reached a stone wall which fronted the estate of Esquire Duncan.

    Jessie Carlton

    Francis Forrester

British Dictionary definitions for esquire


  1. mainly British a title of respect, usually abbreviated Esq, placed after a man's name
  2. (in medieval times) the attendant and shield bearer of a knight, subsequently often knighted himself
  3. rare a male escort

Word Origin for esquire

C15: from Old French escuier, from Late Latin scūtārius shield bearer, from Latin scūtum shield
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 esquire

late 14c., from Middle French esquier "squire," literally "shield-bearer" (for a knight), from Old French escuyer, from Vulgar Latin scutarius "shield-bearer, guardsman" (in classical Latin, "shield-maker"), from scutum "shield" (see hide (n.1)).

For initial e-, see especial. Cf. squire. Originally the feudal rank below knight, sense broadened 16c. to a general title of courtesy or respect for the educated class, especially, later, in U.S., for lawyers.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper