Definition of fourth estate in US English:

fourth estate


the fourth estate
  • The press; the profession of journalism.

    ‘copy desks are held together by the bad-news contingent of the fourth estate’
    • ‘But the mayor is convinced that the fourth estate is to blame.’
    • ‘This would be less troublesome if the extraordinary quantitative illiteracy of the fourth estate were not so strikingly on display in the associated stories.’
    • ‘Seán was the consummate professional journalist and in that capacity, would serve as an ideal role model for any young aspirant to the fourth estate.’
    • ‘It seems to me that the broadcasters are not performing the duty of the fourth estate, and are not challenging enough to the parties.’
    • ‘The fourth estate offers a superb mechanism for strategic leaders and warfighters to transmit operational objectives and goals, as well as to reinforce strategic policy objectives.’
    • ‘Nor will the fourth estate brook any suggestion that the campaign game is fixed.’
    • ‘But we have only a minute-and-a-half, so let's hurry through the calendar and isolate some examples of no love lost between the White House and the fourth estate.’
    • ‘But frankly, what they did was arrogant, disgraceful and a real harm to the credibility of the fourth estate, big time!’
    • ‘It also wishes to follow the time-honored tradition of fourth estates everywhere and offer up a few words of advice.’
    • ‘A Bill of Rights that sets out the right of freedom of speech does not simply grant an individual a right to speak freely but necessitates a fourth estate willing to embrace the responsibilities of a right to free speech.’
    • ‘The public would be greatly disserved if we were to shut this down by scaring off sources from sharing information with the fourth estate.’
    • ‘No conflict with the press of any kind, the fourth estate here is legendary for being happily coopted.’
    • ‘So now the fourth estate, where it was held at bay for 20 or 30 years, really has jumped over the line into an investigative unit that is part of the entire process.’
    • ‘So, is the new president getting a fair share from the fourth estate?’
    • ‘The fourth estate needs a variety of voices, and the blogosphere provides those.’
    • ‘In many way, this is why I appreciate the fourth estate, the press, or the fifth estate, the web, as it is so important to hear as many voices as possible because sunlight is the best disinfectant.’
    • ‘Looks like Tristan isn't the only one of your male friends being pursued by the fourth estate.’
    • ‘The corporate media, the fourth estate, ‘free press’, or whatever one would like to call it owes the public nothing.’
    • ‘Will he negotiate a cease-fire with the fourth estate in his second term?’
    • ‘The notion that the Press is the fourth estate rests on the idea that the media's function is to act as a guardian of the public interest and as a watchdog on the activities of government.’


Originally used humorously in various contexts; its first usage with reference to the press has been attributed to Edmund Burke, but this remains unconfirmed.


fourth estate

/fôrTH əsˈtāt//fɔrθ əsˈteɪt/