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From Middle English dignitee, borrowed 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.


  • IPA(key): /ˈdɪɡnɪti/
  • (file)


dignity (countable and uncountable, plural dignities)

  1. The state of being dignified or worthy of esteem: elevation of mind or character.
    • 1752, Henry Fielding, Amelia, I. viii
      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.
    • 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.
    • 1781, Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, F. III. 231:
      He ... distributed the civil and military dignities among his favourites and followers.
    • Macaulay
      And the king said, What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this?
  4. One holding high rank; a dignitary.
    • Bible, Jude 8.
      These filthy dreamers [] speak evil of dignities.
  5. (obsolete) Fundamental principle; axiom; maxim.
    • Sir Thomas Browne
      Sciences concluding from dignities, and principles known by themselves.


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