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Borrowed from Middle French aristocratie, from Medieval Latin *aristocratia, from Ancient Greek ἀριστοκρατίᾱ (aristokratíā, the rule of the best“, that is, “the best-born”, “nobility), from ἄριστος (áristos, best, noblest) + -κρατίᾱ (-kratíā), from κράτος (krátos, power, rule).



aristocracy (countable and uncountable, plural aristocracies)

  1. The nobility, or the hereditary ruling class.
    • 1791, Thomas Paine, Rights of Man:
      That, then, which is called aristocracy in some countries and nobility in others arose out of the governments founded upon conquest.
  2. Government by such a class, or a state with such a government
    • 1834, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Francesca Carrara, volume 2, page 255:
      How many false principles have been laid down, how much delusion supported, by reference to the glories of Athens and of Rome! It remained for a later time to observe that those so-called republics were but aristocracy in its most oppressive form; and what are now the people were then positive slaves;...
  3. A class of people considered (not normally universally) superior to others

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