1. a person of great influence, importance, or standing in a particular enterprise, field of business, etc.: a railroad magnate.
  2. a person of eminence or distinction in any field: literary magnates.
  3. a member of the former upper house in either the Polish or Hungarian parliament.


  1. a person of power and rank in any sphere, esp in industry
  2. history a great nobleman
  3. (formerly) a member of the upper chamber in certain European parliaments, as in Hungary

n.mid-15c., “great man, noble, man of wealth,” from Late Latin magnates, plural of magnas “great person, nobleman,” from Latin magnus “great, large, big” (of size), “abundant” (of quantity), “great, considerable” (of value), “strong, powerful” (of force); of persons, “elder, aged,” also, figuratively, “great, mighty, grand, important,” from PIE *mag-no-, from root *meg- “great” (cf. Sanskrit maha-, mahat- “great;” Greek megas, fem. megale “great, large;” Gothic mikils, Old English micel “great, big, many;” see mickle).

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