n. pl. ar·is·toc·ra·cies
1. A hereditary ruling class; nobility.
a. Government by a ruling class.
b. A state or country having this form of government.
a. Government by the citizens deemed to be best qualified to lead.
b. A state having such a government.
4. A group or class considered superior to others.
[Late Latin aristocratia, government by the best, from Greek aristokratiā : aristos, best; see ar- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots + -kratiā, -cracy.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.