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From Middle English dignitee, borrowed from Old French dignité, from Latin dīgnitās (worthiness, merit, dignity, grandeur, authority, rank, office), from dīgnus (worthy, appropriate), from Proto-Italic *degnos, from Proto-Indo-European *dḱ-nos, from *deḱ- (to take). See also decus (honor, esteem) and decet (it is fitting). Cognate to deign.


  • IPA(key): /ˈdɪɡnɪti/
  • (file)


dignity (countable and uncountable, plural dignities)

  1. The state of being dignified or worthy of esteem: elevation of mind or character.
    • 1752, Henry Fielding, Amelia, I. viii
      He uttered this ... with great majesty, or, as he called it, dignity.
    • 1981, African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, art. 5
      Every individual shall have the right to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being.
  2. Decorum, formality, stateliness.
    • 1934, Aldous Huxley, "Puerto Barrios", in Beyond the Mexique Bay:
      Official DIGNITY tends to increase in inverse ratio to the importance of the country in which the office is held.
  3. High office, rank, or station.
    • 1781, Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, F. III. 231:
      He ... distributed the civil and military dignities among his favourites and followers.
    • (Can we date this quote by Macaulay and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      And the king said, What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this?
  4. One holding high rank; a dignitary.
    • Bible, Jude 8.
      These filthy dreamers [] speak evil of dignities.
  5. (obsolete) Fundamental principle; axiom; maxim.
    • (Can we date this quote by Sir Thomas Browne and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      Sciences concluding from dignities, and principles known by themselves.


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