Definitions

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

  • n. A person, especially an older or married woman, who accompanies a young unmarried woman in public.
  • n. An older person who attends and supervises a social gathering for young people.
  • n. A guide or companion whose purpose is to ensure propriety or restrict activity: "to see and feel the rough edges of the society . . . without the filter of official chaperones” ( Philip Taubman).
  • transitive v. To act as chaperon to or for. See Synonyms at accompany.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An adult who accompanies or supervises one or more young, unmarried men or women during social occasions, usually with the specific intent of preventing some types of social or sexual interactions or illegal behavior.
  • v. to accompany, to escort
  • v. to mother

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A hood; especially, an ornamental or an official hood.
  • n. A device placed on the foreheads of horses which draw the hearse in pompous funerals.
  • n. A matron who accompanies a young lady in public, for propriety, or as a guide and protector.
  • transitive v. To attend in public places as a guide and protector; to matronize.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To attend (an unmarried girl or woman) in public: said of an older woman or a married woman.
  • n. A hood: a name given to hoods of various shapes at different times.
  • n. Specifically A hood or cap worn by the Knights of the Garter when in full dress.
  • n. A small shield containing crests, initials, etc., formerly placed on the foreheads of horses which drew the hearse in pompous funerals. Also written chaperonne.
  • n. Formerly, one who attended a lady to public places as a guide or protector; a duenna; now, more especially, a married woman who, in accordance with the rules of etiquette, accompanies a young unmarried woman to public places or social entertainments.
  • n. In entomology, the clypeus of the head of an insect; the part which supports the labrum or upper lip; the nasus; the epistoma.
  • n. A conductor or guide; escort. Compare def. 4.

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

  • v. accompany as a chaperone
  • n. one who accompanies and supervises a young woman or gatherings of young people

Etymologies

French, from chaperon, hood, from Old French, diminutive of chape, cape, head covering; see chape.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French chaperon ("hood"), from Middle French, "head covering", from chape (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • She was a typical May-term chaperon, always pleasant, always hungry, and always tired.

    The Longest Journey

  • French noun 'chaperon' - protector - and it is first recorded in Jane Austen's novel Sense And Sensibility,

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  • French noun 'chaperon' - protector - and it is first recorded in Jane Austen's novel Sense And Sensibility, murder Ashleigh Hall has referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints

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  • Women came on their own; they didn't feel they needed a chaperon, which is unusual at a big event with people from outside your social group, Rifaat said.

    Uprising energizes Egyptian women

  • In fact, a chaperon might be the wisest choice of all.

    Almost a Whisper

  • The fact that the chaperon is a necessary institution, and that to married ladies and to elderly ladies should be paid all due respect, is a subject of which we shall treat later.

    Manners and Social Usages

  • He can swagger about wherever he chooses without that most odious of encumbrances called a chaperon; and though I shouldn't care to smoke as many cigars as he does (much as I like the smell of them in the open air), yet I confess it must be delightfully independent to have a latchkey.

    Kate Coventry An Autobiography

  • Eleanor and Miss "Jenny Ann," as the girls seemed inclined to call their chaperon, had not remained on the houseboat merely to polish the pots and pans.

    Madge Morton, Captain of the Merry Maid

  • The chaperon is the accepted guardian of very young girls, taking oversight of them in their social life as soon as the governess gives up her charge.

    The Etiquette of To-day

  • Wherever the young débutante goes in society, -- to every place of amusement, when walking or driving in the park, when shopping or calling, -- and during her calling hours at home, the chaperon is her faithful and interested attendant.

    The Etiquette of To-day

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  • I take my chaperon to the play—
    She thinks she's taking me.
    And the gilded youth who owns the box,
    A proud young man is he—
    But how would his young heart be hurt
    If he could only know
    That not for his sweet sake I go
    Nor yet to see the trifling show;
    But to see my chaperon flirt.

    - Henry Cuyler Bunner, 'The Chaperon'.

    September 15, 2009