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See also: nábob



In colloquial usage in English since 1612, from Bengali নবাব (nobab), from Persian نواب(navâb), from Arabic نُوَّاب(nuwwāb), the honorific plural of نَائِب(nāʔib, deputy).



nabob (plural nabobs)

  1. (historical) An Indian ruler within the Mogul empire.
    Synonyms: nawab; see also Thesaurus:ruler
    • 1771, Henry Mackenzie, The Man of Feeling, London: Cassell, published 1886, page 151:
      They have drained the treasuries of Nabobs, who must fill them by oppressing the industry of their subjects.
  2. (by extension) Someone of great wealth or importance.
    Synonyms: tycoon, magnate; see also Thesaurus:ruler
    • 1838 (date written), L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter IX, in Lady Anne Granard; or, Keeping up Appearances. [], volume I, London: Henry Colburn, [], published 1842, →OCLC, page 114:
      Mr. Glentworth had never quitted Europe, and his wealth was either good English landed property, or equally undeniable English consols; still he was a stranger, very rich, and suddenly come from abroad. Such a man was necessarily a nabob in Mr. Palmer's eyes. India had been the place for making large fortunes in his young days.
    • 2013 June 22, “Engineers of a different kind”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8841, page 70:
      Private-equity nabobs bristle at being dubbed mere financiers. Piling debt onto companies’ balance-sheets is only a small part of what leveraged buy-outs are about, they insist. Improving the workings of the businesses they take over is just as core to their calling, if not more so. Much of their pleading is public-relations bluster.
  3. (by extension) A person with a grandiose style or manner.

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  • Nabobs: A Study of the Social Life of the English in the Eighteenth-Century, Percival Spear, Oxford University Press, London 1938; New Edition OUP, USA: 1998.
  • Durham's Place-Names of the San Francisco Bay Area, David L. Durham, Quill Driver Books, California: 2000.

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