Ar`is*toc"ra*cy (?), n.; pl. Aristocracies (?). [Gr. ?; ? best + ? to be strong, to rule, ? strength; ? is perh. from the same root as E. arm, and orig. meant fitting: cf. F. aristocratie. See Arm, and Create, which is related to Gr. ?.] 1. Government by the best citizens.

2. A ruling body composed of the best citizens. [Obs.]

In the Senate
Right not our quest in this, I will protest them
To all the world, no aristocracy.
B. Jonson.

3. A form a government, in which the supreme power is vested in the principal persons of a state, or in a privileged order; an oligarchy.

The aristocracy of Venice hath admitted so many abuses, trough the degeneracy of the nobles, that the period of its duration seems approach.

4. The nobles or chief persons in a state; a privileged class or patrician order; (in a popular use) those who are regarded as superior to the rest of the community, as in rank, fortune, or intellect.