Es*quire" (?), n. [OF. escuyer,
escuier, properly, a shield-bearer, F. écuyer
shield-bearer, armor-bearer, squire of a knight, esquire, equerry,
rider, horseman, LL. scutarius shield-bearer, fr. L.
scutum shield, akin to Gr. ? skin, hide, from a root meaning
to cover; prob. akin to E. hide to cover. See
Hide to cover, and cf. Equerry, Escutcheon.]
Originally, a shield-bearer or armor-bearer, an attendant on a
knight; in modern times, a title of dignity next in degree below
knight and above gentleman; also, a title of office and
courtesy; -- often shortened to squire.
☞ In England, the title of esquire belongs by right of
birth to the eldest sons of knights and their eldest sons in
perpetual succession; to the eldest sons of younger sons of peers and
their eldest sons in perpetual succession. It is also given to
sheriffs, to justices of the peace while in commission, to those who
bear special office in the royal household, to counselors at law,
bachelors of divinity, law, or physic, and to others. In the United
States the title is commonly given in courtesy to lawyers and
justices of the peace, and is often used in the superscription of
letters instead of Mr.
Es*quire" (?), v. t. [imp. & p.
p. Esquired (?); p. pr. & vb. n.
Esquiring.] To wait on as an esquire or attendant in
public; to attend. [Colloq.]