Noble vs ignoble

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Noble and ignoble are antonyms, which are words that have opposite meanings. We will look at the definitions of the words noble and ignoble, their origins and some examples of how they are used in sentences.

Noble means belonging to a hereditary class of people by birth, rank or title. Noble may also mean having lofty moral or personal qualities or being of superior quality. Noble may also mean having an imposing appearance. The word noble is derived from the Latin word gnobilis, which literally means knowable. This stems from the idea that important Roman families were well known, even to the lower classes. Related words are nobility, nobleness and nobly.

Ignoble means of humble birth, from common or lower class origins. Ignoble may also mean dishonorable, despicable, inferior. The word ignoble is unsurprisingly derived from the Latin word ignobilis, which means obscure, undistinguished, unknown, not noble, common. Strictly speaking, most people could be described as being of ignoble or non-aristocratic origins, but the term is currently most often used to describe someone born into poverty, or something dishonorable or inferior. Related words are ignobility, ignobleness, ignobly.


“But this thing detracts greatly from his merits, as there is now living with him a young woman of noble birth, though many say of bad character, whose will is law to him, and he is expected to marry her, should the divorce take place, which it is supposed will not be effected, as the peers of the realm, both spiritual and temporal, and the people are opposed to it; nor during the present Queen’s life will they have any other Queen in the kingdom.” (BBC History Magazine)

And as we continue to navigate and negotiate the country’s new political and social terrain, we should appeal to the most noble aspirations of America—and of religious thought. (The Wall Street Journal)

Some weeks later, Michael was given a job with the company with a very good salary, though he did not know the ignoble role I played. (The Pulse)

The poor creature meets an ignoble end, but the friendship sticks. (TIME Magazine)