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From Middle English dignyte, from Old French dignité, from Latin dīgnitās (worthiness, merit, dignity, grandeur, authority, rank, office), from dīgnus (worthy, appropriate), from Proto-Italic *degnos, from Proto-Indo-European *dḱ-nos, from *deḱ- (to take). See also decus (honor, esteem) and decet (it is fitting). Cognate to deign. Doublet of dainty. In this sense, displaced native Old English weorþsċipe, which became Modern English worship.


  • IPA(key): /ˈdɪɡnɪti/
  • Audio (US):(file)



dignity (countable and uncountable, plural dignities)

  1. The state of being dignified or worthy of esteem: elevation of mind or character.
    • 1751 December (indicated as 1752), Henry Fielding, chapter VIII, in Amelia. [], volume I, London: [] [William Strahan] for A[ndrew] Millar [], →OCLC:
      He uttered this ... with great majesty, or, as he called it, dignity.
    • 1981, African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, art. 5:
      Every individual shall have the right to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being.
  2. Decorum, formality, stateliness.
    • 1905, E. M. Forster, Where Angels Fear to Tread , chapter 7, third paragraph:
      The reception room was sacred to the dead wife. Her shiny portrait hung upon the wall - similar, doubtless, in all respects to the one which would be pasted on her tombstone. A little piece of black drapery had been tacked above the frame to lend a dignity to woe. But two of the tacks had fallen out, and the effect was now rakish, as that of a drunkard's bonnet.
    • 1934, Aldous Huxley, “Puerto Barrios”, in Beyond the Mexique Bay:
      Official DIGNITY tends to increase in inverse ratio to the importance of the country in which the office is held.
  3. High office, rank, or station.
  4. One holding high rank; a dignitary.
  5. (obsolete) Fundamental principle; axiom; maxim.



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