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squire / ˈskwīr/ • n. 1. a man of high social standing who owns and lives on an estate in a rural area, esp. the chief landowner in such an area: the squire of Radbourne Hall | [as title] Squire Hughes. ∎ Brit., inf. used by a man as a friendly or humorous form of address to another man. ∎  archaic a title given to a magistrate, lawyer, or judge in some rural districts. 2. hist. a young nobleman acting as an attendant to a knight before becoming a knight himself. • v. [tr.] (of a man) accompany or escort (a woman): she was squired around Rome by a reporter. ∎ dated (of a man) have a romantic relationship with (a woman). DERIVATIVES: squire·dom / -dəm/ n. squire·ship / ship/ n.

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squire is a term which has come down in the world. Originally it applied to a young man attendant on a knight, bearing his shield, and, by the late 14th cent., entitled to his own coat of arms. Chaucer's Squire, a dapper young man, served his father. By Tudor times, the terminology was changing. William Harrison (1577) referred to ‘esquire, which we commonly call squire’. In the 17th cent. it developed into a general term for the lord of the manor, well below the level of nobility, but far above yeomen. Addison offered an idealized version in the Spectator (1711/12) in the form of Sir Roger de Coverley, worshipped by his servants and tenants: in the Freeholder (1715–16) he drew the antithesis in Squire Foxhunter, an ignorant boor, cursing the Hanoverians and complaining that there had been no good weather since the days of Charles II. Fielding's Squire Western in Tom Jones (1749) offered support for Macaulay's much-criticized portrait of the squirearchy as drunken clowns. The term ‘esquire’, like that of ‘gentleman’, was gradually applied to any man as a suffix, and its final degradation was as a 20th-cent. term of pert familiarity. See gentry.

J. A. Cannon

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squire in feudal times, a young nobleman acting as an attendant to a knight before becoming a knight himself; from the late 16th century, a young man attending or escorting a lady, a gallant or lover.

From the 17th century, squire came to denote a man of high social standing who owns and lives on an estate in a rural area, especially the chief landowner in such an area.

The word is recorded from Middle English, and is originally a shortening of Old French esquier ‘esquire’.

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squire young man in attendance on a knight XIII; one who attends on a lady XVI; country gentleman XVII. Aphetic — OF. esquier ESQUIRE.
Hence squirearchy class of squires. XVIII; after hierarchy. squireen petty squire XIX.