plural noun

abundant and valuable possessions; wealth.

Origin of riches

1175–1225; Middle English, plural of Middle English riche wealth, power (Old English rīce power, rule; cognate with German Reich realm); confused with Middle English richesse wealth < Old French, equivalent to riche wealthy (< Germanic; see rich) + -esse -ess



adjective, rich·er, rich·est.

having wealth or great possessions; abundantly supplied with resources, means, or funds; wealthy: a rich man; a rich nation.
abounding in natural resources: a rich territory.
having wealth or valuable resources (usually followed by in): a country rich in traditions.
abounding (usually followed by in or with): a countryside rich in beauty; a design rich with colors.
of great value or worth; valuable: a rich harvest.
(of food) delectably and perhaps unhealthfully spicy, or sweet and abounding in butter or cream: a rich gravy; a rich pastry.
costly, expensively elegant, or fine, as dress or jewels.
sumptuous; elaborately abundant: a rich feast.
using valuable materials or characterized by elaborate workmanship, as buildings or furniture.
abounding in desirable elements or qualities: a man rich in kindness.
(of wine) strong and finely flavored.
(of color) deep, strong, or vivid: rich purple.
full and mellow in tone: rich sounds; a rich voice.
strongly fragrant; pungent: a rich odor.
producing or yielding abundantly: a rich soil.
abundant, plentiful, or ample: a rich supply.
Automotive. (of a mixture in a fuel system) having a relatively high ratio of fuel to air (contrasted with lean2def 5).
  1. highly amusing.
  2. ridiculous; absurd.


(used with a plural verb) rich persons collectively (usually preceded by the): new tax shelters for the rich.

Origin of rich

before 900; Middle English; Old English rīce (adj.) ≪ Celtic; cognate with German reich wealthy; akin to Latin rēx, Sanskrit rājan king
Related formsrich·ly, adverbrich·ness, nouno·ver·rich, adjectiveo·ver·rich·ly, adverbo·ver·rich·ness, nounsu·per·rich, adjective, nounul·tra·rich, adjective, noun

Synonyms for rich

1. well-to-do, moneyed. Rich, wealthy, affluent all indicate abundance of possessions. Rich is the general word; it may imply that possessions are newly acquired: an oilman who became rich overnight. Wealthy suggests permanence, stability, and appropriate surroundings: a wealthy banker. Affluent usually suggests a generous amount of income, with a high standard of living and some social prestige and privilege: an affluent family. 5. bountiful, copious, luxuriant. 7. precious, high-priced, dear. 12. intense, vibrant. 14. aromatic. 15. fruitful, productive, prolific, luxuriant. 16. bountiful, copious, abounding, bounteous.

Antonyms for rich

1–5, 15, 16. poor.




Adrienne,1929–2012, U.S. poet and feminist.
a male given name, form of Richard. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for riches

Contemporary Examples of riches

Historical Examples of riches

  • She cared little for poverty or riches, as long as she had regained her chief treasures.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Riches were, are, and always will be, his predominant passion.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • He had gold and silver, diamonds and rubies, riches of every kind.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • What riches, or honours, or pleasures, can make us amends for the loss of innocence?

    Joseph Andrews Vol. 1

    Henry Fielding

  • In the providence of God, my riches have entirely passed from me.

    Slavery Ordained of God

    Rev. Fred A. Ross, D.D.

British Dictionary definitions for riches


pl n

wealth; an abundance of money, valuable possessions, or property



Adrienne. 1929–2012, US poet and feminist writer; her volumes of poetry include Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law (1963) and Diving Into the Wreck (1973)
Buddy, real name Bernard Rich . 1917–87, US jazz drummer and band leader



  1. well supplied with wealth, property, etc; owning much
  2. (as collective noun; preceded by the)the rich
(when postpositive , usually foll by in) having an abundance of natural resources, minerals, etca land rich in metals
producing abundantly; fertilerich soil
(when postpositive , usually foll by in or with) well supplied (with desirable qualities); abundant (in)a country rich with cultural interest
of great worth or quality; valuablea rich collection of antiques
luxuriant or prolifica rich growth of weeds
expensively elegant, elaborate, or fine; costlya rich display
(of food) having a large proportion of flavoursome or fatty ingredients, such as spices, butter, or cream
having a full-bodied flavoura rich ruby port
(of a smell) pungent or fragrant
(of colour) intense or vivid; deepa rich red
(of sound or a voice) full, mellow, or resonant
(of a fuel-air mixture) containing a relatively high proportion of fuelCompare weak (def. 12)
very amusing, laughable, or ridiculousa rich joke; a rich situation


See riches

Word Origin for rich

Old English rīce (originally of persons: great, mighty), of Germanic origin, ultimately from Celtic (compare Old Irish king)
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 riches

"valued possessions, money, property," c.1200, modified from richesse (12c.), a singular form misunderstood as a plural, from Old French richesse, richece "wealth, opulence, splendor, magnificence," from riche (see rich (adj.)). The Old French suffix -esse is from Latin -itia, added to adjectives to form nouns of quality (cf. duress, largesse).



Old English rice "strong, powerful; great, mighty; of high rank," in later Old English "wealthy," from Proto-Germanic *rikijaz (cf. Old Norse rikr, Swedish rik, Danish rig, Old Frisian rike "wealthy, mighty," Dutch rijk, Old High German rihhi "ruler, powerful, rich," German reich "rich," Gothic reiks "ruler, powerful, rich"), borrowed from a Celtic source akin to Gaulish *rix, Old Irish ri (genitive rig) "king," from PIE root *reg- "move in a straight line," hence, "direct, rule" (see rex).

The form of the word was influenced in Middle English by Old French riche "wealthy, magnificent, sumptuous," which is, with Spanish rico, Italian ricco, from Frankish *riki "powerful," or some other cognate Germanic source.

Old English also had a noun, rice "rule, reign, power, might; authority; empire." The evolution of the word reflects a connection between wealth and power in the ancient world. Of food and colors, from early 14c.; of sounds, from 1590s. Sense of "entertaining, amusing" is recorded from 1760. The noun meaning "the wealthy" was in Old English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with riches


In addition to the idiom beginning with rich

  • rich as Croesus

also see:

  • embarrassment of riches
  • from rags to riches
  • strike it rich
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.