Definitions

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

  • n. A woman who has retired into seclusion for religious reasons.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A female anchorite. A woman who chooses to withdraw from the world to live a solitary life of prayer and contemplation.
  • n. an anchorwoman

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A female anchoret.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A female anchoret.

Etymologies

Middle English anchoryse, ankres, from ancre, anchorite, from Old English ancra, from Old Irish anchara, from Late Latin anachōrēta; see anchorite.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From anchor +‎ -ess (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Whitby being one of the oldest and grandest foundations was sure to be inaccessible to a high-born but unportioned girl, and Grisell in her sense of loneliness saw nothing before her but to become an anchoress, that is to say, a female hermit, such as generally lived in strict seclusion under shelter of the Church.

    Grisly Grisell

  • "anchoress," seldom or never left the walls of her cell, a little house of two or three rooms built generally against the church wall, so that one of her windows could open into the church, and another, veiled by a curtain, looked on to the outer world, where she held converse with and gave counsel to those who came to see her.

    Mysticism in English Literature

  • I was told that in order to protect herself, Jane became an anchoress.

    The Exorsistah: X Returns

  • In “The Book of Encouragement and Consolation,” this young anchoress, who is only known through a letter she may have never received, and the voice of a man, Goscelin, whose love for her may have been implicated in her removal from St Bertin to Wilton, is given her own chance to respond.

    Archive 2008-04-01

  • And did she find that place, too, already deserted, and think of the anchoress as her next hope?

    His Disposition

  • An anchoress was dead in the eyes of the world — she would have been given Extreme Unction before she was enclosed — and now, as St. Paul would say, her life is “hidden with Christ in God.”

    Column: Stretched between heaven and earth

  • Previously I'd never even heard of the term, anchoress.

    Blast from the Past: Loaded Questions with Brenda Rickman Vantrease, author of "The Illuminator"

  • An anchorite or anchoress, take your pick--I prefer the non-gendered term is a nun, but not really.

    Rules for Anchorites

  • For example, Mr. Thompson reportedly booted executives off a cross-continental Citigroup flight to be alone with the impeccably brunette anchoress.

    Sold! ���Money Honey,��� Hubby Buy $6.5 M. East Side Townhouse

  • Today is the feast of Dame Julian c. 1417, an anchoress in Norwich.

    A well-anchored lady

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