Borrowed from Spanish grande (adjective), from Latin grandis (large, great). Doublet of grand and grande.


  • IPA(key): /ɡɹænˈdiː/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -iː


grandee (plural grandees)

  1. A high-ranking nobleman in Spain or Portugal. [from 1590s]
    • 1670, Antoine de Brunel, François van Aerssen, A Journey Into Spain, page 38
      Grandees of Spain are of two sorts, this Honour being sometimes personal, sometimes hereditary. The first, the King bids be covered themselves; the second, themselves and Heirs for ever. This is all the Ceremony in making a Grandee, neither do any other priviledges belong to it; so that it is but a Chimerical and Airy Honour, without any profit; they which marry the Heiress of a Family of a Grandee of Spain, that is such hereditarily, become Grandees in right of their Wives.
  2. (by extension) A person of high rank.
    Synonym: magnate
    • 1880, Mark Twain [pseudonym; Samuel Langhorne Clemens], chapter XXXVIII, in A Tramp Abroad; [], Hartford, Conn.: American Publishing Company; London: Chatto & Windus, →OCLC, page 441:
      I indicated a chair, and he sat down. This grandee was the grandson of an American of considerable note in his day, and not wholly forgotten yet,—a man who came so near being a great man that he was quite generally accounted one while he lived.
    • 1897, Thomas Anstey Guthrie, “X”, in Baboo Hurry Bungsho Jabberjee, B.A., page 78:
      Whereupon most did desist; but some, secreting their cigars in the hollow of their hands, took whiffs by stealth, and blushed to find it fame; while others, who were such grandees and big pots that their own convenience was the first and foremost desideratum, continued to smoke with lordliness and indifference.
    • 2021 November 27, “What Peng Shuai reveals about one-party rule”, in Economist[1]:
      It is hard to see a good ending to the story of Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis champion who on November 2nd accused a former Communist Party grandee more than twice her age of subjecting her to a coercive sexual relationship.


Further readingEdit