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  1. a lady's maid.

Origin of abigail

1645–55; after Abigail, name of attendant in play The Scornful Lady (1610), by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher


  1. the wife of Nabal and later of David. I Sam. 25.
  2. a female given name: from a Hebrew word meaning “joy of the father.”
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for abigail

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The finer feminine instinct of Abigail led her to interpose.

  • Meanwhile, Miss Abigail had descended the stairs to the sitting room.

    Cap'n Warren's Wards

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Similarly, she indulged a mettlesome fancy for referring to her hostess as "dear Abigail."


    Louis Joseph Vance

  • Abigail, to save her husband and his property, hastens to the foot of the hill.

    The Wedding Ring

    T. De Witt Talmage

  • The stories of Deborah and Abigail are very apt to discourage a woman's soul.

    The Wedding Ring

    T. De Witt Talmage

British Dictionary definitions for abigail


  1. Old Testament the woman who brought provisions to David and his followers and subsequently became his wife (I Samuel 25:1–42)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for abigail


fem. proper name, in Old Testament, Abigail the Carmelitess, a wife of David, from Hebrew Abhigayil, literally "my father is rejoicing," from abh "father" + gil "to rejoice." Used in general sense of "lady's maid" (1660s) from character of that name in Beaumont & Fletcher's "The Scornful Lady." The waiting maid association perhaps begins with I Sam. xxv, where David's wife often calls herself a "handmaid." Her male counterpart was Andrew.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper