Word curio icon

Word Curio

November 15, 2019

Word of the Day: Grandee

2 CQ

Word of the Day : February 4, 2017

grandee \grand-DEE\ noun


: a man of elevated rank or station; especially : a Spanish or Portuguese nobleman of the first rank


After winning the golf tournament, the young player shook hands and posed for pictures with the grandees who had supplied the prize fund.

"People from around the nation and the world, who could not afford to live here full-time, increasingly come to California as tourists so they can live like Mediterranean grandees for a week or two." — Joel Kotkin, The San Bernardino (California) Sun, 4 Dec. 2016

Did You Know?

In Medieval Spain and Portugal, the grandes ("great ones," from Latin grandis, meaning "great") were at the pinnacle of the ranks of rich and powerful nobles. A grandee (as it came to be spelled in English) could wear a hat in the presence of the king and queen—the height of privilege—and he alone could address a letter directly to royalty. (Even Christopher Columbus had to direct his reports of the to an important noble at court, who read them to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.) Today the term can still be applied to nobility, but it can also be used for anyone of importance and influence anywhere, such as the "pin-striped grandees of London's financial district."

Aired February 4, 2017

All Merriam-Webster content is available at

  • Recommended Recommended
  • History & In Progress History
  • Browse Library
  • Most Popular Library

Get Personalized Recommendations

Let us help you figure out what to learn! By taking a short interview you’ll be able to specify your learning interests and goals, so we can recommend the perfect courses and lessons to try next.

Start Interview

You don't have any lessons in your history.
Just find something that looks interesting and start learning!

500 characters max