Definition of aristocracy in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌarɪˈstɒkrəsi/

noun (plural aristocracies)

(usually the aristocracy) [treated as singular or plural]
1The highest class in certain societies, typically comprising people of noble birth holding hereditary titles and offices: members of the aristocracy
More example sentences
  • Classes are obvious - there were the aristocracy, the middle class or bourgeois, and of course the peasantry or rustic class.
  • Scott's casual attitude to debt was certainly closer to that of the aristocracy than the middle class.
  • This step was taken much earlier in London, where the Philharmonic Society was founded by an élite of the aristocracy, gentry, City, and professions in 1813.
the nobility, the peerage, the gentry, the upper class, the ruling class, the privileged class, the elite, high society, the establishment, the patriciate, the haut monde, the beau monde;
aristocrats, lords, ladies, peers, peers of the realm, nobles, noblemen, noblewomen, titled men/women/people, patricians
informal the upper crust, the jet set, the beautiful people, the crème de la crème, the top drawer, aristos
British informal nobs, toffs
1.1A form of government in which power is held by the nobility.
Example sentences
  • Aristotle produced a complex taxonomy of constitutions, the three main types of which are monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy.
  • Both argued that irrespective of the form of government, be it monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy, a relatively compact minority always ruled.
  • Aristotle pointed out in his book of lectures The Politics and in his studies of constitutions that aristocracy as an ideal too often degenerated into either oligarchy, the rule of the powerful, or plutocracy, the rule of the rich.
1.2A state in which governing power is held by the nobility.
Example sentences
  • This would continue for some time in Byzantium and in Scandinavia, in polities of strong public power or weak aristocracies.
  • Early British occupation was disruptive: aristocracies lost power and influence to the new rulers, the conditions under which land was held could be changed, and taxation was more rigorously enforced.
  • Rather they reveal Tocqueville's fixation on the contrast between classes in aristocracies and democracies.
1.3A group regarded as privileged or superior in a particular sphere: Britain’s pop aristocracy a new aristocracy of talented young people
More example sentences
  • He dresses film stars, supermodels and the aristocracy of pop in clothes that are symbols of status and success.
  • In more recent years the new aristocracies of the pop world have changed the city's landscape in their own glamorous ways.
  • The marketing gurus have been the aristocracy of the sales-marketing community.


Late 15th century: from Old French aristocratie, from Greek aristokratia, from aristos 'best' + -kratia 'power'. The term originally denoted the government of a state by its best citizens, later by the rich and well born, hence the sense 'nobility', regardless of the form of government (mid 17th century).

  • The term originally meant the government of a state by its best citizens, later by the rich and well born, which led, in the mid 17th century, to the sense ‘nobility’, regardless of the form of government. The origin is Old French aristocratie, from Greek aristokratia, from aristos ‘best’ and -kratia ‘power’.

Words that rhyme with aristocracy

adhocracy, autocracy, bureaucracy, democracy, gerontocracy, gynaecocracy (US gynecocracy), hierocracy, hypocrisy, meritocracy, mobocracy, monocracy, plutocracy, technocracy, theocracy

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: ar¦is|toc¦racy

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