Anglo-Norman and Middle French nobilité valour, merit, renown (mid 11th cent. in Old French as nobilitet), nobility of birth (mid 15th cent.), nobles, aristocracy (early 16th cent.; in Anglo-Norman also in sense ‘great deed’) or their etymon classical Latin nobilitas renown, distinction, noble birth, nobles, aristocracy, loftiness of character < nobilis NOBLE adj. + -tas (see -TY suffix1; compare -ITY suffix). Compare Italian nobilità peerage, aristocracy (early 14th cent. in Dante; a1250 in sense ‘excellence, superiority’)
- I. The quality of nobleness.
- 1. The quality of being noble in respect of appearance; magnificence, stateliness; impressiveness of proportions or dimensions. rare before 19th cent.
- 2. The quality of having high status or value; renown or distinction arising from excellence. Chiefly with reference to things. Obs.
- 3. The quality, state, or condition of being noble in rank or title, or noble by birth. Also in extended use.
- 4. The quality of being noble in character; esp. the quality of having high moral principles or ideals; loftiness of character. Also in extended use.
- 5. Chem. The property of an element of being noble or relatively unreactive. Cf. NOBLE adj. 7b. Now rare.
- 6. In pl. Instances of nobleness of nature or character; high or excellent qualities or attributes. rare before 19th cent.
- 7. a. The group of people forming the noble class in a country or state; a noble class, an aristocracy.
- b. Without article: members of a noble class; nobles collectively.
- c. Chess. The pieces other than pawns. Obs. rare.
- d. A member of a noble class, a peer. Freq. in pl. Now rare.