from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • Mata Hari Originally Margaretha Geertruida Zelle. 1876-1917. Dutch spy. A professional dancer in Paris after 1905, she apparently spied for Germany during World War I and was arrested and executed by the French.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • proper n. Any exotic, female spy.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. Dutch dancer who was executed by the French as a German spy in World War I (1876-1917)


From Dutch (stage name of Margaretha Geertruida (Grietje) Zelle, a Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan who was executed by firing squad for alleged espionage during World War I), from Indonesian matahari ("sun"), from Malay matahari ("sun"). (Wiktionary)


Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.