Definitions

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

  • n. A French working-class girl or young woman.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A French girl or young married woman of the lower class; especially, a young working-class woman of perceived easy morals.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A French girl or young married woman of the lower class; more frequently, a young working woman who is fond of gallantry.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Originally, a sort of gray woolen fabric, much used for dresses by women of the lower classes in France: so called from its gray color. Hence —2. A young woman of the working class; especially, a young woman employed as a shopgirl, a sewing girl, or a chambermaid: commonly applied by foreigners in Paris to the young women of this class who are free in their manners on the streets or in the shops.
  • n. The noctuid moth Acronycta strigosa: an English collectors' name.

Etymologies

French, a cheap gray dress fabric, grisette, from gris, gray; see grisaille.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French grisette, from gris ("grey"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Paris student, than any with which a foreigner could furnish him: the grisette is his heroine; and dear old Béranger, the cynic-epicurean, has celebrated him and her in the most delightful verses in the world.

    The Paris Sketch Book

  • The grisette is a gay, chattering bird, which at fifteen escapes from the nest never to return; it is not her custom to drag about a mother after her, this is the special mania of actresses who resort to all sorts of tricks ignored by the proud and independent grisette.

    The Cross of Berny

  • The grisette is the Andalouse of Paris; she possesses the talent of being able to pass through the mire of Lutetia on tiptoe, like a dancer who studies her steps, without soiling her white stockings with a single speck of mud.

    The Cross of Berny

  • This passage, with which we have taken some liberties, will give the reader a more lively idea of the reckless, jovial, turbulent Paris student, than any with which a foreigner could furnish him: the grisette is his heroine; and dear old Béranger, the cynic-epicurean, has celebrated him and her in the most delightful verses in the world.

    The Paris Sketch Book

  • Monsieur Dorlange has given me in my bust the air of a grisette, which is not true at all.

    The Deputy of Arcis

  • The very terms "grisette" and "lorette" by which young women unblest with wealth or social rank are commonly designated, involve the idea of demoralization -- no man would apply them to one whom he respected and of whose good opinion he was solicitous.

    Glances at Europe In a Series of Letters from Great Britain, France, Italy, Switzerland, &c. During the Summer of 1851.

  • Higher than a street prostitute or a fille libre but lower than the legendary grandes horizontales , lionesses and amazons , Chanel was a grisette , "the young milliner, glover or seamstress . . . who often took lovers to boost their pitiful earnings."

    The Enduring Coco Chanel

  • A face that must have once had the graceful, delicate beauty of a grisette, with "a youthful glow" that passes quickly, but which still retained her extremely pretty, cheerful, kindly, heart - shaped mouth.

    'The Life of Irene Nemirovsky'

  • The first grisette who had said to him: “You are handsome!” had cast the stain of darkness into his heart, and had made a Cain of this Abel.

    Les Miserables

  • He is an honorable idler who lounges, who practises country jaunts, who cultivates the grisette, who pays court to the fair sex, who is at this very moment, perhaps, with my mistress.

    Les Miserables

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • If you want an example of a grisette, think about Fantine from Les Miserables.

    March 20, 2012

  • Cf. lorette.

    April 5, 2011

  • Young working girl.

    May 16, 2008