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Borrowed from Spanish grande (adjective), from Latin grandis (large, great).



grandee (plural grandees)

  1. A high-ranking nobleman in Spain or Portugal. [from 1590s]
    • 1670, Antoine de Brunel, François van Aerssen, A Journey Into Spain, page 38
      Grandees of Spain are of two sorts, this Honour being sometimes personal, sometimes hereditary. The first, the King bids be covered themselves; the second, themselves and Heirs for ever. This is all the Ceremony in making a Grandee, neither do any other priviledges belong to it; so that it is but a Chimerical and Airy Honour, without any profit; they which marry the Heiress of a Family of a Grandee of Spain, that is such hereditarily, become Grandees in right of their Wives.
  2. (by extension) A person of high rank.
    Synonym: magnate
    • 1880, Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad, page 441:
      I indicated a chair, and he sat down. This grandee was the grandson of an American of considerable note in his day, and not wholly forgotten yet,—a man who came so near being a great man that he was quite generally accounted one while he lived.
    • 1897, Thomas Anstey Guthrie, “X”, in Baboo Hurry Bungsho Jabberjee, B.A., page 78:
      Whereupon most did desist; but some, secreting their cigars in the hollow of their hands, took whiffs by stealth, and blushed to find it fame; while others, who were such grandees and big pots that their own convenience was the first and foremost desideratum, continued to smoke with lordliness and indifference.
  3. The title for a high ranking nobleman in Spain or Portugal.


Further reading[edit]