fourth estate Name sometimes given to the press. The phrase was first used by Thomas Babington Macaulay when he wrote (1828) of the House of Commons that: “The gallery in which the reporters sit has become a fourth estate of the realm.” This was an expansion of the concept of the three estates – the lords spiritual, lords temporal, and commons.
fourth es·tate • n. (the fourth estate) the press; the profession of journalism: copy desks are held together by the bad-news contingent of the fourth estate.
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