Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Used formerly as a courtesy title before a woman's given name but now used only before a surname or title indicating rank or office.
  • noun Used as a salutation in a letter.
  • noun Used as a form of polite address for a woman.
  • noun The mistress of a household.
  • noun A woman who manages a brothel.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun My lady; lady: originally a formal term of address to a lady (a woman of rank or authority, or the mistress of a household); now a conventional term of address to women of any degree, but chiefly to married and matronly women.
  • noun A title used to designate women under the rank of Lady, but moving in respectable society; prefixed to a surname, equivalent to Mrs. Compare mistress.
  • noun See the quotation. The use mentioned is not uncommon in all parts of the United States.
  • noun A lady; a woman of fashion or pretension often used with a suggestion of disparagement: as, a conceited madam; city madams.
  • To address as madam.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A gentlewoman; -- an appellation or courteous form of address given to a lady, especially an elderly or a married lady; -- much used in the address, at the beginning of a letter, to a woman. The corresponding word in addressing a man is Sir; often abbreviated ma'am when used as a term of address.
  • noun The woman who is in charge of a household.
  • noun The woman who is in charge of a brothel.

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

  • noun a woman who runs a house of prostitution
  • noun a woman of refinement

Etymologies

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

[Middle English madame, from Old French ma dame; see Madame.]

Examples

  • 'Lord! madam,' says I, 'let me carry the poor children to Madam ----,' she desires you to send them; she'll take care of the poor lambs; 'and immediately I takes one of them out of her hand, and she lifts the other up into my arms.

    The Fortunes And Misfortunes Of The Famous Moll Flanders

  • 'Lord! madam,' says I, 'let me carry the poor children to Madam ----,' she desires you to send them; she'll take care of the poor lambs; 'and immediately I takes one of them out of her hand, and she lifts the other up into my arms.

    The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders

  • A look at the women who might one day wear the title Madam President coming up in our next half hour.

    CNN Transcript Feb 18, 2006

  • "Another unusual practice is addressing the lecturers by their names, unlike in Malaysia where we use the title Madam or Mr as a sign of respect."

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  • "Another unusual practice is addressing the lecturers by their names, unlike in Malaysia where we use the title Madam or Mr as a sign of respect."

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  • His death unfortunately diminishes the value of all the copyrights; because of the three first, the term of 28 years will soon be expired — and as these are the best books, they are very likely to be assailed by piratical editions — We shall be happy to add to this statement any further explanations you may require — and remain Madam

    Letter 373

  • Now a 45-year-old mother outside Atlanta, Ms. Meagher garnered the nickname Madam Butterfly for having held two world records for nearly 20 years an achievement that ranks among the greatest in sports history.

    For the Athlete Who Has It All

  • I do write morning pages everyday – thank goodness Madam is used to playing by herself for the first half hour or so of the day.

    Write On Wednesday-Everybody Write

  • Wife of Egano de Galluzzi, dwelling in Bologna, and her name Madam

    The Decameron

  • When I came out, pale and shaken, the proprietor, still complacently leaning against the door, remarked, "Eh bien, Madam is glad to have seen her house, is n't she!"

    A Childhood in Brittany Eighty Years Ago

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