American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A saucy, coquettish, intriguing maidservant in comedies or comic opera.
- n. An actress or a singer taking such a part.
- n. A young woman regarded as flirtatious or frivolous.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. Theat., a maidservant in comedy, frequently a lady's-maid. The part is usually characterized by coquetry, pertness, effrontery, and a spirit of intrigue: by extension the term is applied to almost any part exhibiting these qualities.
- n. A female servant or attendant, especially as mischievous or cheeky, often featuring in theatrical comedies
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. A female servant or attendant; specifically, as a term of the theater, a lady's maid, in comedies, who acts the part of an intrigante; a meddlesome, mischievous female servant or young woman.
- n. a minor female role as a pert flirtatious lady's maid in a comedy
- n. a pert or flirtatious young girl
- From French soubrette, from Occitan soubreto, the feminine of soubret ‘coy’, from soubra (Provençal sobrar), from Latin superare ‘be above’. (Wiktionary)
- French, from Provençal soubreto, feminine of soubret, conceited, from soubra, to leave aside, from Old Provençal sobrar, to be excessive, from Latin superāre, from super, above; see uper in Indo-European roots. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“In classical music and opera, the term soubrette refers to both a soprano voice type and a particular type of opera role.”
“In theatre, the term soubrette describes a comedy character who is vain and girlish, mischievous, lighthearted, coquettish and gossipy--often a chambermaid or confidante of the ingenue, she often displays a flirtatious or even sexually aggressive nature.”
“A moment later, a waiting-woman, of middle age, and too well trained to dress like a "soubrette" of comedy, opened the door to him.”
“The Chevalier Cocona, who had the misfortune to be suffering from a venereal disease, gave me up his mistress, a pretty little 'soubrette'; but in spite of the evidence of my own eyes, and in spite of the assurances she gave me, I could not make up my mind to have her, and my fear made me leave her untouched.”
“The role of the anguished femme fatale could have been made for the foxy, soubrette-ish Vallo, while Singleton's portrayal of the devoted, despairing Moon Dog is at once restrained and touching.”
“They married the following year and she became the leading lady and soubrette in the Williams and Walker Company, soon after becoming famous in her own right as a performer of the Cakewalk.”
“There was in Candy the femme fatale, the southern belle, the damsel in distress, the man-in-a-dress, the soubrette, the coquette, the vamp, the lady, and the tramp.”
“Smoke is semi-gallantly seeking to help Lucille Arral, "the singing soubrette of the tiny stock company that performed nightly at the Palace Opera House," and to make a fast buck while putting some life into a moribund Dawson.”
“The cabin boy in question, is on one of the bettor's yacht headed for Honolulu and when "he" falls overboard and is helped back on deck, is discovered by the yachtsman to be a girl, "a chit of a child" of 16, an orphan and "a soubrette of no mean ability.”
“Composers such as Oscar Straus, Franz Lehár, and Edmund Eysler wrote for her expressive soubrette voice.”
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