from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A British nobleman next in rank above a viscount and below a marquis, corresponding to a count in continental Europe.
- n. Used as a title for such a nobleman.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A British nobleman next in rank above a viscount and below a marquess; equivalent to a European count. A female using the style is termed a countess.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. A nobleman of England ranking below a marquis, and above a viscount. The rank of an earl corresponds to that of a count (comte) in France, and graf in Germany. Hence the wife of an earl is still called countess. See count.
- n. The needlefish.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A British title of nobility designating a nobleman of the third rank, being that next below a marquis and next above a viscount.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. a British peer ranking below a marquess and above a viscount
Middle English erl, nobleman of high rank, from Old English eorl.(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English erl, from Old English eorl, from *erlaz (compare Old Norse jarl, Old Saxon/Old High German erl), from *erōnan, *arōnan (compare Old Norse jara 'fight, battle'), from Proto-Indo-European *h₁er- (compare Latin orior 'to rise, get up', Ancient Greek órnēmi 'to urge, incite', Avestan ərənaoiti 'to move', Sanskrit ṛṇóti 'to arise, reach, move, attack'). (Wiktionary)