Esquire

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Dictionary Meaning and Definition on 'Esquire'

Esquire Meaning and Definition from WordNet (r) 2.0
    esquire n
  1. (Middle Ages) an attendant and shield bearer to a knight; a candidate for knighthood
  2. a title of respect for a member of the English gentry ranking just below a knight; placed after the name [syn: Esq]
Esquire Meaning and Definition from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
    Esquire \Es*quire"\, n. [OF. escuyer, escuier, properly, a shield-bearer, F. ['e]cuyer shield-bearer, armor-bearer, squire of a knight, esquire, equerry, rider, horseman, LL. scutarius shield-bearer, fr. L. scutum shield, akin to Gr. ? skin, hide, from a root meaning to cover; prob. akin to E. hide to cover. See Hide to cover, and cf. Equerry, Escutcheon.] Originally, a shield-bearer or armor-bearer, an attendant on a knight; in modern times, a title of dignity next in degree below knight and above gentleman; also, a title of office and courtesy; -- often shortened to squire. Note: In England, the title of esquire belongs by right of birth to the eldest sons of knights and their eldest sons in perpetual succession; to the eldest sons of younger sons of peers and their eldest sons in perpetual succession. It is also given to sheriffs, to justices of the peace while in commission, to those who bear special office in the royal household, to counselors at law, bachelors of divinity, law, or physic, and to others. In the United States the title is commonly given in courtesy to lawyers and justices of the peace, and is often used in the superscription of letters instead of Mr.
Esquire Meaning and Definition from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
    Esquire \Es*quire"\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Esquired; p. pr. & vb. n. Esquiring.] To wait on as an esquire or attendant in public; to attend. [Colloq.]
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Wikipedia Meaning and Definition on 'Esquire'


Esquire (abbreviated Esq.) is a term of British origin (ultimately from Latin scutarius in the sense of shield bearer via Old French "esquier"). In Britain, it is an unofficial title of respect, having no precise significance, which is used to denote a high but indeterminate social status.

The most common occurrence of term Esquire today is the conferral as the suffix "Esq." in order to pay an informal compliment to a male recipient by way of implying gentle birth. Today, there remain respected protocols, especially in the United States, for identifying those to whom it is thought most proper that the suffix should be given, especially in very formal or in official circumstances. The social rank of Esquire is that above gentleman. Nineteenth century tables of precedences further distinguished between esquires by birth and esquires by office (and likewise for gentlemen). Today, however, the term gentleman is rarely found in official tables of precedence and when it is invariably simply means a man. One extinct English usage of the term was to distinguish between men of the upper and lower gentry, who were "esquires" and "gentlemen" respectively (between, for example, "Thomas Smith, Esq." and "William Jones, Gent."). A late example of this distinction is in the list of subscribers to The History of Elton, by the Rev. Rose Fuller Whistler, published in 1892, which clearly distinguishes between subscribers designated Mr (another way of indicating gentlemen) and those allowed Esquire.

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