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[url] /ɜrl/
a British nobleman of a rank below that of marquis and above that of viscount: called count for a time after the Norman conquest. The wife of an earl is a countess.
(in Anglo-Saxon England) a governor of one of the great divisions of England, including East Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria, and Wessex.
Origin of earl
before 900; Middle English erl, Old English eorl; cognate with Old Saxon erl man, Old Norse jarl chieftain


or Earle

[url] /ɜrl/
a male given name: from the old English word meaning “noble.”. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for earl
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • By a special gift in 1420 it was restored to the twelfth earl.

    The Kensington District Geraldine Edith Mitton
  • He could remember clearly now, the earl's explanations of the action of the coronet.

    Millennium Everett B. Cole
  • But I did think that his lordship, the present earl, would have been above it.

    The Smuggler's Cave George A. Birmingham
  • He thought of the names he had heard used by the guards of the earl.

    Millennium Everett B. Cole
  • earl of Warwick—May it please your grace, and you my noble lords, my peers.

British Dictionary definitions for earl


(in the British Isles) a nobleman ranking below a marquess and above a viscount Female equivalent countess
(in Anglo-Saxon England) a royal governor of any of the large divisions of the kingdom, such as Wessex
Word Origin
Old English eorl; related to Old Norse jarl chieftain, Old Saxon erl man
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for earl

Old English eorl "brave man, warrior, leader, chief" (contrasted with ceorl "churl"), from Proto-Germanic *erlo-z, of uncertain origin.

In Anglo-Saxon poetry, "a warrior, a brave man;" in later Old English, "nobleman," especially a Danish under-king (equivalent of cognate Old Norse jarl), then one of the viceroys under the Danish dynasty in England. After 1066 adopted as the equivalent of Latin comes (see count (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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