1 : a provincial governor of the Mogul empire in India
2 : a person of great wealth or prominence
Did You Know?
In India’s Mogul Empire, founded in the 16th century, provincial governors carried the Urdu title of nawāb. In 1612, Captain Robert Coverte published a report of his “discovery” of “the Great Mogoll, a prince not till now knowne to our English nation.” The Captain informed the English-speaking world that “An earle is called a Nawbob,” thereby introducing the English version of the word. Nabob, as it thereafter came to be spelled, gained its extended sense of “a prominent person” in the 18th century, when it was applied sarcastically to British officials of the East India Company returning home after amassing great wealth in Asia. The word was perhaps most famously used by Vice President Spiro Agnew, in a 1970 speech written by William Safire, when he referred to critical members of the news media as “nattering nabobs of negativism.”
“The extreme concentration of wealth in the United States in the late 1800s and again in the 1920s were major contributors to recurrent economic slumps and market crashes…, climaxing with the crash of 1929 and the Great Depression. Those crises led to two congressional investigations early in the last century, in which lawmakers tried to hold the millionaire nabobs of those eras responsible.” — Michael Hiltzik, The Los Angeles Times, 29 Dec. 2019