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

  • noun A woman who is an actor.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A female actor or performer.

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

  • noun obsolete A female actor or doer.
  • noun A female stageplayer; a woman who acts a part.

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

  • noun a female actor


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From actor +‎ -ess.


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  • They are not actresses; that is how they really feel.

    - Peter Reading, C, 1984

    August 2, 2008

  • Why do we still use the word actress when most -ess words (e.g. stewardess, authoress, shepherdess, waitress) are considered improper or quaint? My guess is that it's because the sex of a steward, author, shepherd, or waiter is irrelevant, but an actor's sex actually matters, because it determines which roles he or she will be hired to play.

    The same explanation also works for goddess. In religious studies and mythology, the fact that a goddess is female is actually quite relevant to her character, so it's not sexist to draw attention to the fact.

    That's my theory, anyway. I could be wrong.

    January 8, 2012

  • Hmmm. Interesting, ptero'. I do know several girls who refer to themselves as actors.

    And, it occurs to me . . . is it true that it's very important to the French that their table can only be feminine? Which again, obviously, is actually quite relevant to her character, n'est ce pas?

    January 8, 2012