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.

Origin: OE. Eorl, erl, AS. Eorl man, noble; akin to OS. Erl boy, man, Icel. Jarl nobleman, count, and possibly to Gr. Male, Zend arshan man. Cf. Jarl.

<zoology> The needlefish.

(01 Mar 1998)

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