AskDefine | Define highborn

Dictionary Definition

highborn adj : belonging to the peerage; "the princess and her coroneted companions"; "the titled classes" [syn: coroneted, titled]

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Alternative spellings


  1. Of high social standing as a result of having been born a member of an upper-level social class.
    • 1596, William Shakespeare , King John, act 5 sc. 2,
      I am too high-born to be propertied,
      To be a secondary at control.
    • 1672, Thomas Watson, "The Righteous Man's Excellency" in A plea for the Godly, Thomas Parkhurst, p. 95,
      It is not for Kings to drink wine, nor for Princes strong drink. It becomes not them who are highborn to be intemperate.
    • 1781, Samuel Johnson, "Waller" in Lives of the Poets,
      His acquaintance with this high-born dame gave wit no opportunity of boasting its influence; she was not to be subdued by the powers of verse, but rejected his addresses, it is said, with disdain.
    • 1857, William Makepeace ThackerayThe Virginians, ch. 63,
      The young Irishman was not a little touched and elated by the highborn damsel's partiality for him.
    • 1920, Joseph Conrad, The Rescue, ch 4,
      Was he not Rajah Hassim and was not the other a man of strong heart, of strong arm, of proud courage, a man great enough to protect highborn princes?
    • 2007, Lesley White, "Face of Tories' new deal—Gordon Brown is enjoying a honeymoon now," The Australian, 14 July,
      He is a career rather than a conviction politician, but too highborn to be written off as a mere scaler of the greasy pole. He is a scion of the class that, deep down, believes it was born to rule.
  2. Born a member of an upper-level social class (although not necessarily retaining high social standing)
    • 1848, Thomas Macaulay, The History of England from the Accession of James II, vol. 5, ch. 23,
      The selfish, base, covetous, father-in-law was not at all desirous to have a highborn beggar and the posterity of a highborn beggar to maintain.
    • 1996, Peter F. Ainsworth, "'The Letter Killeth': Law and Spirit in Marie De France's Lay of Le Fresne," French Studies, vol. L, no. 1 (Jan.), p. 5,
      The references to the lady's long-standing affection for her loyal, high-born servant girl provide a succinct intimation that the lady herself is not a wholly repellent character.
    • 2007, "Travelling to his African home" Church Times, UK, 9 Mar, iss. 7513,
      Mrs Monteith was able to tell her son about their high-born slave ancestor because he had left a memoir.
  3. Of, pertaining to, or befitting people of high social standing.
    • 1670, Richard Crashaw, "To the Queen's Majesty on Twelfth-day" in Steps to the temple; The delights of the Muses; and, Carmen Deo Nostro, Herringman (London),
      In this illustrious throng, your lofty flood
      Swells high, fair confluence of all highborn Blood.
    • 1820, Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Cenci, act 2, sc. 2.2,
      I should have then
      Been trained in no highborn necessities
      Which I could meet not by my daily toil.
    • 1996, Jayne M. Blanchard, "Cherry Jubilee: New artistic director Joe Dowling sees the comedy in Chekhov and intends to bring a lighter 'Cherry Orchard' to the Guthrie Stage," St. Paul Pioneer Press, 17 June, p, 8B,
      Dowling says that most performances of Chekhov plays have been filtered through translations into a British highborn sensibility.
    • 2002, Kevin B. Blackistone, "Baffert trained for the spotlight," The Dallas Morning News, 28 May,
      If anyone in the highborn sport known as thoroughbred horse racing has swagger these days, it is Baffert.
  4. Of superior or premium quality; magnificent; expensive.



  • Webster 1913
  • Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1989.
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