American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A woman of gentle or noble birth or superior social position.
- n. A well-mannered and considerate woman with high standards of proper behavior.
- n. A woman acting as a personal attendant to a lady of rank.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A woman of good family or of good breeding.
- n. A woman who attends upon a person of high rank.
- n. A lady: a term of civility applied to any woman of respectable appearance.
- n. obsolete A woman of the nobility.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. A woman of good family or of good breeding; a woman above the vulgar.
- n. A woman who attends a lady of high rank.
- n. a woman of refinement
“The good old lady admired the word gentlewoman of all others in the English vocabulary, and made all around her feel that such was her rank.”
“In spite of the disguising plainness of my dress, I suppose the word gentlewoman was clearly stamped upon me.”
“Now all this while my good old nurse, Mrs. Mayoress, and all the rest of them did not understand me at all, for they meant one sort of thing by the word gentlewoman, and I meant quite another; for alas! all I understood by being a gentlewoman was to be able to work for myself, and get enough to keep me without that terrible bugbear going to service, whereas they meant to live great, rich and high, and I know not what.”
“We should perhaps also rule out stowing away although, actually, I once got to Norway by sleeping in the ship's infirmary, no questions asked or acting as a paid companion to a distressed gentlewoman, which is all very well and good, but might involve too many afternoons reading Barbara Pym novels aloud to be truly beneficial.”
“Night alone, that one occasion, is enough to set all on fire, and they are so cunning in great houses, that they make their best advantage of it: Many a gentlewoman, that is guilty to herself of her imperfections, paintings, impostures, will not willingly be seen by day, but as”
“She is described as a gentlewoman of reserved and quiet deportment, "esteemed by her neighbours for graces of person as well as of mind and heart, and not less distinguished for her sound sense and good manners than for her cheerful temper and excellent housewifery.”
“The gentlewoman was a little coye, but, before they part, they concluded that the next daye at foure of the clock hee should come thither and eate a pound of cherries, which was resolved on with a succado des labras, and so with a loath to depart they tooke their leaves.”
“The gentlewoman was a person of virtue and merit, but was unlucky in her choice of a husband -- Porteous was no better a husband than he had been a son.”
“The Brothel is a place where relief is given and ministrations are performed under the watchful eye of a titled gentlewoman, who is known simply as Madame.”
“It was fairly typical for a young, upper-middle-class woman to be sent away to school, and it was also common for a "gentlewoman" such as Winslow's Aunt Deming to take in schoolgirls as boarders in order to earn some extra income.”
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