1. any very wealthy, influential, or powerful person.
  2. Also nawab. a person, especially a European, who has made a large fortune in India or another country of the East.
  3. nawab(def 1).

Origin of nabob

From the Hindi word nawāb, dating back to 1605–15. See nawab
Related formsna·bob·er·y [ney-bob-uh-ree, ney-bob-uh-ree] /ˈneɪ bɒb ə ri, neɪˈbɒb ə ri/, na·bob·ism, nounna·bob·ish, na·bob·i·cal, adjectivena·bob·ish·ly, na·bob·i·cal·ly, adverbna·bob·ship, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for nabobism


  1. informal a rich, powerful, or important man
  2. (formerly) a European who made a fortune in the Orient, esp in India
  3. another name for a nawab
Derived Formsnabobery (ˈneɪbɒbərɪ, neɪˈbɒbərɪ) or nabobism, nounnabobish, adjective

Word Origin for nabob

C17: from Portuguese nababo, from Hindi nawwāb; see nawab
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 nabobism



1610s, "deputy governor in Mogul Empire," Anglo-Indian, from Hindi nabab, from Arabic nuwwab, honorific plural of na'ib "viceroy, deputy," from base n-w-b "to take someone's place." Also used of Europeans who came home from India having made a fortune there, hence "very rich man" (1764).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper