Definition of nobility in English:



  • 1The quality of being noble in character.

    ‘a man of nobility and learning’
    • ‘The basic premise of the story is that noble birth doesn't guarantee a noble person and nobility can be present in the most humble peasant.’
    • ‘Sport is used as a tool for defining so-called Australian nobility of spirit.’
    • ‘Yes, let's take the classics and teach about nobility, honor, character, courage, commitment.’
    • ‘With all the nobility of her character, she kept Margaret's secret.’
    • ‘I don't think Erica is programmed to understand nobility of character.’
    • ‘Such a limitation requires a strong breed of man, however, with a quality of character and nobility of soul.’
    • ‘His face was reasonably happy and his standard expression seemed to be one of aloof nobility, even though he knew he wasn't noble.’
    • ‘I, of course, have remained above all this, not out of any nobility of character, but out of sheer laziness.’
    • ‘At such moments nobility and strength of character propel us way beyond our means to be kind and helpful.’
    • ‘She was reputedly of great beauty, and aside from that also possessed much grace, kindness, nobility, and, among other things, charm.’
    • ‘But they wanted to be recognized for their nobility of character.’
    • ‘Most of the characters reveal sorry weaknesses but also unsuspected bits of nobility.’
    • ‘Her long black hair was tied back in a thick braid, and her blue-gray eyes gazed into mine with a mixture of wisdom, kindness, and nobility.’
    • ‘But if Othello dies a deluded and confused figure, would that not rob him of all dignity and nobility, turning him into the pitiful victim of a vicious, hostile society?’
    • ‘There is a nobility to his character that the other villagers find almost impossible to understand.’
    • ‘He spent the entire film buried under a ton of make-up as Frankenstein's Monster but captured the essential nobility of his put-upon character really well.’
    • ‘Audrey Hepburn is luminous, waif-like, but with nobility that itself transcended her character's station.’
    • ‘She was admired for that nobility of spirit, it seems.’
    • ‘The yardstick for gauging the inherent nobility of a character in major films these days is the slowness of the slow-motion in which their death is captured.’
    virtue, goodness, honour, honesty, decency, integrity, magnanimity, generosity, selflessness, bravery
    View synonyms
  • 2The quality of belonging to the aristocracy.

    ‘after 1722 nobility was only acquired by service in the army or bureaucracy’
    • ‘The great ministerial dynasties, and many of the most dynamic servants of the Bourbon monarchy, acquired nobility through the purchase of office.’
    • ‘In France noble privileges were all swept away in 1789 and hereditary nobility itself was abolished in 1790.’
    • ‘Though he recognized injustices connected to a system of hereditary nobility, this recognition did not animate his intellectual work.’
    • ‘Other, less prestigious ennobling offices required two generations to serve in office before conferring transmissible nobility.’
    • ‘In Russia the equation of nobility and service was quite explicit: after 1722 nobility was only acquired by service in the army or bureaucracy.’
    1. 2.1The group of people belonging to the highest social class in a country; the aristocracy.
      ‘a member of the English nobility’
      • ‘The nobilities of the Italian states (except Piedmont) were broken by the process of unification, and the new state was run by a bourgeois political class of lawyers, civil servants, and landowners.’
      • ‘They enjoyed abundant mineral wealth, stunning yields of maize and cacao, as well as strong and enduring ties to the Mesoamerican nobilities of Oaxaca and central Mexico.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, the older nobility was losing income due to declining rents.’
      • ‘In the Czech Republic, the old nobility is enjoying a new lease of life.’
      • ‘Instead, they were answerable to a complex of hereditary or franchise jurisdictions in the hands of the feudal nobility.’
      • ‘For the landowning nobility, the portents were not good.’
      • ‘Even he could be persuaded that a man's conduct was so markedly honourable as to justify elevation to the nobility.’
      • ‘To this extent, the novel could be seen as a celebration of the values of the English nobility.’
      • ‘But the English nobility keep themselves to themselves and only dine with the pick of the bunch.’
      • ‘Yet sceptics argued that a large modern republic was not possible in Europe, with its overpowerful feudal nobilities and its hordes of miserable poor.’
      • ‘The night of 4 August also transformed the character of the French nobility.’
      • ‘He spent most of his life in the service of the English nobility, partly as a music tutor.’
      • ‘That there were fewer revolts in the second half of the century was due in no small part to a growing mutual understanding between rulers and nobilities, the history of which has attracted less attention than the revolts themselves.’
      • ‘All this made her popular with the French nobility, eventually including the King and Queen of France.’
      • ‘At all levels of government, the nobility dominated decision making.’
      • ‘Around this castle were the smaller houses of lesser nobility and the members of court.’
      • ‘With its glittering population of titled courtiers, it also symbolized a whole social system dominated by a privileged nobility.’
      • ‘Though the civil service was dominated by the nobility, it became progressively more open to commoners.’
      • ‘By insinuating himself into the French nobility, he systematically destroys the men who manipulated and enslaved him.’
      • ‘The prerogative of nobles was to command, and nobilities everywhere dominated the machineries of state.’


Late Middle English: from Old French nobilite or Latin nobilitas, from nobilis noted, high-born (see noble).