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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English esquier, from Old French escuyer, escuier, properly, a shield-bearer (compare modern French écuyer (shield-bearer, armor-bearer, squire of a knight, esquire, equerry, rider, horseman)), from Late Latin scūtārius (shieldmaker, shield-bearer), from Latin scūtum (shield); probably akin to English hide (to cover). The term squire is the result of apheresis. Compare equerry, escutcheon.


 esquire on Wikipedia

esquire (plural esquires)

  1. (usually US, law) A lawyer.
  2. A male member of the gentry ranking below a knight.
    • c. 1596–1599 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Second Part of Henry the Fourth, []”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene ii]:
      I am Robert Shallow, sir; a poor esquire of the county, and one of the king's justices of the peace.
    • 1875 Herbert Broom and Edward Hadley, notes by William Wait, Commentaries on the laws of England, I-317:
      Esquires and gentlemen are confounded together by Sir Edward Coke, who observes that every esquire is a gentleman, and a gentleman is defined to be one qui arma gerit, who bears coat-armour, the grant of which was thought to add gentility to a man's family. It is indeed a matter somewhat unsettled what constitutes the distinction, or who is a real esquire; for no estate, however large, per se confers this rank upon its owner.
  3. An honorific sometimes placed after a man's name.
  4. A gentleman who attends or escorts a lady in public.
  5. (archaic) A squire; a youth who in the hopes of becoming a knight attended upon a knight
  6. (obsolete) A shield-bearer, but also applied to other attendants.
    • 1801, Joseph Strutt, The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England:
      The office of the esquire consisted of several departments; the esquire for the body, the esquire of the chamber, the esquire of the stable, and the carving esquire; the latter stood in the hall at dinner, carved the different dishes, and distributed them to the guests.
Usage notes[edit]
  • In England this title is given to the eldest sons of knights, and the elder sons of the younger sons of peers and their eldest sons in succession, officers of the king's courts and of the household, barristers, justices of the peace while in commission, sheriffs, gentlemen who have held commissions in the army and navy, etc.: but opinions with regard to the correct usage vary. There are also esquires of knights of the Bath, each knight appointing three at his installation. The title now is usually conceded to all professional and literary men. In the United States the title is regarded as belonging especially to lawyers.
  • In legal and other formal documents Esquire is usually written in full after the names of those considered entitled to the designation; in common usage it is abbreviated Esq. or Esqr., and appended to any man's name as a mere mark of respect, as in the addresses of letters (though this practice is becoming less prevalent than formerly). In the general sense, and as a title either alone or prefixed to a name, the form Squire has always been the more common in familiar use. - Century, 1914
  • See also the Wikipedia article on "Esquire"
Derived terms[edit]
  • Esquire bedel - See bedel


esquire (third-person singular simple present esquires, present participle esquiring, simple past and past participle esquired)

  1. (transitive, obsolete) To attend, wait on, escort.

Etymology 2[edit]

Old French esquiere, esquierre, esquarre (a square) (whence modern French équerre), perhaps via a form like based esquire from bas d'esquire ("bottom of a square"), whence attested forms base (e)squire, e(s)quire bast.

The arms of Mortimer, barry of six or and azure on a chief of the first two pallets between two base esquires of the second, over all an inescutcheon argent.


esquire (plural esquires)

  1. (heraldry, rare) The lower of the halves into which a square is divided diagonally, a single gyron, but potentially larger (extending across the shield) or smaller (for example, on Mortimer's arms).
    • 1597, Gerard Legh, Armorie, page 154, quoted in the NED:
      Thre pallets between ij Esquires bast dexter and sinister of the second.
    • 1883, Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, page 142:
      Mortimer, Barry of 6, or & az. an inescutcheon arg. on a chief of the first 2 pallets between as many base esquires of the second.
    • 2011 October 24, Peter Beauclerk-Dewar, Roger Powell, Royal Bastards: Illegitimate Children of the British Royal Family, The History Press, →ISBN:
      Against the theory of two wives for Sir Thomas, is the fact that the Lumley Monument mentions only one, Elizabeth. In addition she appears to have been granted the Royal Arms: 1. France and England, 2. a plain cross of Ulster, 3. as 2, 4. barry of siz, a chief three pallets, between two esquires bastions, dexter and sinister, an inescutcheon Argent, Mortimer, over all a bar sinister, which are also displayed on the monument.


Further reading[edit]




esquire m or f by sense (plural esquires)

  1. esquire (a title)

Further reading[edit]