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A count is a nobleman in most of European countries, equivalent in rank to a British earl, whose wife is also still a "countess" (for lack of an Anglo-Saxon term). The word count comes from French comte which in turn comes from the Latin comitas, "companion" (of the emperor). In feudalism the territory ruled by a count was a county.
A woman having this title or the wife of a count is called countess.
- Heraldica.org - here the French peerage
- Italian Titles of Nobility
- Webster's 1828 Dictionary Archived 2006-02-14 at the Wayback Machine