Definitions

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

  • noun Used formerly as a courtesy title for a woman in authority or a mistress of a household.
  • noun A married woman; a matron.
  • noun An elderly woman.
  • noun Often Offensive Slang A woman.
  • noun A woman holding a nonhereditary title conferred by a sovereign in recognition of personal merit or service to the country.
  • noun The wife or widow of a knight.
  • noun Used as the title for such a woman.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A mother.
  • noun A dam: said of beasts.
  • noun A woman of rank, high social position, or culture; a lady; specifically, in Great Britain, the legal title of the wife or widow of a knight or baronet.
  • noun A woman in general; particularly, a woman of mature years, a married woman, or the mistress of a household: formerly often used (like the modern Mrs.) as a title, before either the surname or the Christian name.
  • noun The mistress of an elementary school.
  • noun In Eton, England, a woman with whom the boys board, and who has a certain care over them; sometimes, also, a man who occupies the same position.

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

  • noun A mistress of a family, who is a lady; a woman in authority; especially, a lady.
  • noun The mistress of a family in common life, or the mistress of a common school.
  • noun A woman in general, esp. an elderly woman.
  • noun obsolete A mother; -- applied to human beings and quadrupeds.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun UK The equivalent title to Sir for a female knight.
  • noun informal Slightly derogatory way of referring to a woman.
  • noun archaic Lady, woman.

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

  • noun informal terms for a (young) woman
  • noun a woman of refinement

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin domina, feminine of dominus, lord, master; see dem- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English, from Old French, from Latin domina

Examples

  • He accepted this alms, and was rejoiced that he was faithful to the last to poverty, which he called his dame and his mistress; then raising his hands to heaven, he gave glory to our Lord Jesus

    The Life and Legends of Saint Francis of Assisi

  • He accepted this alms, and was rejoiced that he was faithful to the last to poverty, which he called his dame and his mistress; then raising his hands to heaven, he gave glory to our Lord Jesus Christ, that, being disengaged and free from everything, he was about to go to Him.

    The Life and Legends of Saint Francis of Assisi

  • Chess-players may have borrowed the word dame from the game of draughts.

    languagehat.com: CHESS WORDS.

  • In the animal wing a strange-looking dame is down at the end, talking to a sleepy tiger.

    It's Like This, Cat

  • Wrongly am I called dame; but I know well that he who calls me dame knows not that I am a maid.

    Cligés. English

  • Moved out of herself by the nearness of death, the titled dame had reverted to childish days, speaking her thoughts aloud.

    All Aboard A Story for Girls

  • My grand-dame is sharp of hearing and light of slumber.

    The Golden Apple Tree

  • The yeoman-keeper, therefore, our friend Joceline, had constructed, for his own accommodation, and that of the old woman he called his dame, a wattled hut, such as his own labour, with that of a neighbour or two, had erected in the course of a few days.

    Woodstock

  • The yeoman-keeper, therefore, our friend Joceline, had constructed, for his own accommodation, and that of the old woman he called his dame, a wattled hut, such as his own labour, with that of a neighbour or two, had erected in the course of a few days.

    Woodstock; or, the Cavalier

  • From the reign of Robert, the son of Hugh Capet, the barons of Courtenay are conspicuous among the immediate vassals of the crown; and Joscelin, the grandson of Atho and a noble dame, is enrolled among the heroes of the first crusade.

    The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

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