Definition of ignoble in English:


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adjectiveadjective ignobler, adjective ignoblest

  • 1Not honorable in character or purpose.

    ‘ignoble feelings of intense jealousy’
    • ‘But the elevated, even chivalric, tone in which it is being conducted scarcely even masks its onesided and ignoble purpose.’
    • ‘The vicarious emotions that the accounts of the trial provoked range from the honourable, through the ignoble to the thoroughly perverse.’
    • ‘For we recognize that the powers made possible by biomedical science can be used for non-therapeutic or ignoble purposes, serving ends that range from the frivolous and disquieting to the offensive and pernicious.’
    • ‘Somehow, over the past decade, the duty to protect open government has been nudged aside by another, more ignoble purpose: the desire to bestow political favors.’
    • ‘He will be remembered as a gentleman of the game, a man who played to win but never stooped to ignoble or dishonourable depths.’
    • ‘Live life for God and our motives are no longer mercenary, and our life is not founded on an ignoble base.’
    • ‘In the eyes of many contemporary and also later Chinese, this was an ignoble outcome that strongly compromised China's dignity and interests.’
    • ‘Underworld's greatest hits collection struggled painfully to number 46 in the album charts and dropped out a week later: an ignoble fate for a record containing some of the most headily innovative music of the past 10 years.’
    • ‘He loves to cite historical accounts of how she maintained her regal bearing to the end, how even her detractors reported that, on her ignoble cart ride to the guillotine, ‘she was never more of a queen.’’
    • ‘Circumstances might occasion modification of the principles, but there was nothing ignoble in the tradition of beginning with strong prima facie respect for inherited wisdom and being cautious in departing from it.’
    • ‘Still, I can't help but wonder aloud if now that credits credit almost everyone, it isn't far more ignoble to say that writing a large chunk of a movie still doesn't deserve even cursory recognition.’
    • ‘Pink or brown, time to break with an ignoble past, and that includes breaking with reptile-brained reactions to differences in skin-melanin content or epicanthic eyelid folds.’
    • ‘A combination of Julius Caesar, Bertold Brecht, Benito Mussolini and Huey Long biopic it is a masterful novel, an in depth portrait of the struggles even ignoble politicians face and a meditation on the price of politics.’
    • ‘Of course it is ignoble to invoke the nanny state in order to correct your own personal weakness, but at least my friends' motives were somehow honest, and based on intimate knowledge of the people they knew best - themselves.’
    • ‘It's pretty ignoble stuff but the author attempts to redeem himself 12 years later when he goes to live with the actress and her two children, including a daughter from another relationship.’
    • ‘In ‘Useful Idiots,’ her devastating new book on the left's ignoble Cold War history, Mona Charen rounds up some telling examples.’
    • ‘First in an ignoble line was the East India Company, set up by British merchant adventurers and granted the Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I in 1600.’
    • ‘Many South Africans are apparently wary of what they see as ignoble intentions by profit-hungry American drug companies.’
    • ‘There is also a strong message that vengeance is ignoble, and sacrificing oneself for any higher cause is honorable.’
    • ‘All it requires is following the example of some of their more ignoble predecessors - the Dixiecrats.’
    dishonourable, unworthy, base, shameful, contemptible, despicable, shabby, abject, low, sordid, degraded, corrupt, mean, wrong
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  • 2Of humble origin or social status.

    ‘Yerby's characterization of Fancy is, therefore, ironic, emphasizing the ignoble origins of most Southerners.’
    • ‘Yesterday she had been so vilely common and ignoble… almost as if she had no regard for any life… any life save his.’
    • ‘There can be little doubt that Head's noble savage existed as a conceptual foil for Europe's ignoble civilization.’
    • ‘It reads: ‘The working classes must be freed from their state of ignoble slavery through rational socialism.’’
    • ‘But perhaps not: a victim is not necessarily ignoble or contemptible, except in the racist terms of others.’
    • ‘They were an ignoble race not unlike the despicable Gorlocs, and they needed to be defeated for their dishonor.’
    humble, low, low-born, low-bred, low-ranking, plebeian, proletarian, peasant, poor
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/iɡˈnōb(ə)l/ /ɪɡˈnoʊb(ə)l/


Late Middle English (in ignoble (sense 2)): from French, or from Latin ignobilis, from in- ‘not’ + gnobilis, older form of nobilis ‘noble’.