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[chee-chiz-bey-oh or, older use, si-sis-bee-oh; Italian chee-cheez-be-oh] /ˌtʃi tʃɪzˈbeɪ oʊ or, older use, sɪˈsɪs biˌoʊ; Italian ˌtʃi tʃizˈbɛ oʊ/
noun, plural cicisbei
[chee-chiz-bey-ee or, older use, si-sis-bee-ee; Italian chee-cheez-be-ee] /ˌtʃi tʃɪzˈbeɪ i or, older use, sɪˈsɪs biˌi; Italian ˌtʃi tʃizˈbɛ i/ (Show IPA)
(esp. in Italy during the 17th and 18th centuries)
an escort or lover of a married woman.
Origin of cicisbeo
From Italian Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for cicisbeo
Historical Examples
  • Heretofore, he had shunned everything that could secure for him the reputation of a cicisbeo.


    Marion Harland
  • Gozzi means that he had assumed the rle of cicisbeo to Mme. Ricci.

  • Love was the great game; every woman had lovers, every married woman openly flaunted her cicisbeo or cavaliere servente.

    The Venetian School of Painting

    Evelyn March Phillipps
  • Mme Boursier, knowing the poverty of her paramour, had paid him as her cicisbeo, squandering upon him her children's patrimony.

    She Stands Accused Victor MacClure
  • It must be owned the Lady Louise had some excuse for a measure that seemed to have amazed and horrified her cicisbeo.

    At Last Marion Harland
  • One thing let me tell you; never admit your cicisbeo to an unlimited familiarity; they are first suspected.

    The Sylph, Volume I and II Georgiana Cavendish
  • If she has one cicisbeo, or ten, the whole affair is selon les règles.

  • The restricted intellectual relationship between husband and wife is explained partly by the fact that the cicisbeo still exists.

  • The cicisbeo is a bony cartilaginous gentleman, fixed perpendicularly on his saddle like a telegraph-pole.

    A Tour Through The Pyrenees Hippolyte Adolphe Taine
British Dictionary definitions for cicisbeo


noun (pl) -bei (-ˈbɛːi)
the escort or lover of a married woman, esp in 18th-century Italy
Word Origin
C18: Italian, of uncertain origin
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
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Word Origin and History for cicisbeo

1718, from Italian cicisbeo "the recognized gallant of a married woman." Perhaps from older French chiche beau "little man," or from Venetian dialect cici "the chattering of women" (imitative, attested in 18c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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