aristocracy

[ar-uh-stok-ruh-see]
noun, plural aristocracies.
1.
a class of persons holding exceptional rank and privileges, especially the hereditary nobility.
2.
a government or state ruled by an aristocracy, elite, or privileged upper class.
3.
government by those considered to be the best or most able people in the state.
4.
a governing body composed of those considered to be the best or most able people in the state.
5.
any class or group considered to be superior, as through education, ability, wealth, or social prestige.

Origin:
1555–65; (< Middle French aristocratie) < Medieval Latin aristocracia (variant of -tia) < Greek aristokratía rule of the best. See aristo-, -cracy

antiaristocracy, adjective, noun, plural antiaristocracies.
proaristocracy, adjective
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
aristocracy (ˌærɪˈstɒkrəsɪ)
 
n , pl -cies
1.  a privileged class of people usually of high birth; the nobility
2.  such a class as the ruling body of a state
3.  government by such a class
4.  a state governed by such a class
5.  a class of people considered to be outstanding in a sphere of activity
 
[C16: from Late Latin aristocratia, from Greek aristokratia rule by the best-born, from aristos best; see -cracy]

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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

aristocracy
1560s, from M.Fr. aristocracie (Mod.Fr. aristocratie), from L.L. aristocratia, from Gk. aristokratia "government, rule of the best," from aristos "best" (originally "most fitting," from PIE *ar-isto-, superlative form of *ar- "to fit together") + kratos "rule, power" (see
-cracy). At first in a literal sense; meaning "rule by a privileged class" (best-born or best-favored by fortune) is from 1570s and became paramount 17c. Hence, the meaning "patrician order" (1650s). In early use contrasted with monarchy; after French and American revolutions, with democracy.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

aristocracy definition


A privileged, primarily hereditary ruling class, or a form of government controlled by such an elite.

Note: Traditionally, the disproportionate concentration of wealth, social status, and political influence in the aristocracy has been resented by the middle class and lower class.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
The members of the aristocracy of mind produce ideas, and pass along knowledge.
All that counted now was the aristocracy of exposure.
These policies are something out of an aristocracy, not our democracy.
She grows up among the aristocracy, and elaborate palaces are her and her many
  siblings' playgrounds.
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