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[deym] /deɪm/
(initial capital letter)
  1. the official title of a female member of the Order of the British Empire, equivalent to that of a knight.
  2. the official title of the wife of a knight or baronet.
(formerly) a form of address to any woman of rank or authority.
a matronly woman of advanced age; matron.
Slang: Sometimes Offensive. a term used to refer to a woman:
Some dame cut me off and almost caused an accident.
Ecclesiastical. a title of a nun in certain orders.
a mistress of a dame-school.
Archaic. the mistress of a household.
Archaic. a woman of rank or authority, especially a female ruler.
Origin of dame
1175-1225; Middle English < Old French < Latin domina, feminine of dominus lord, master
Usage note
Dame is sometimes perceived as insulting when used to refer generally to a woman, unless it is a woman of rank or advanced age. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for dame
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • If any dame sent me up for three years and then wanted money from me, do you think she'd get it?

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • One of these wings was set aside for dame Kronk and the little girl.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • Mon petit dame came downstairs, with her grave husband, and kissed me.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • This paper was my contract, and mon petit dame explained that she was not my mother.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • At that time I had no secretary, but mon petit dame served me as such.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
British Dictionary definitions for dame


(formerly) a woman of rank or dignity; lady
a nun who has taken the vows of her order, esp a Benedictine
(archaic, mainly Brit) a matronly or elderly woman
(slang, mainly US & Canadian) a woman
(Brit) Also called pantomime dame. the role of a comic old woman in a pantomime, usually played by a man
Word Origin
C13: from Old French, from Latin domina lady, mistress of a household


noun (in Britain)
the title of a woman who has been awarded the Order of the British Empire or any of certain other orders of chivalry
the legal title of the wife or widow of a knight or baronet, placed before her name: Dame Judith Compare Lady
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 dame

early 13c., from Old French dame "lady, mistress, wife," from Late Latin domna, from Latin domina "lady, mistress of the house," from Latin domus "house" (see domestic). Legal title for the wife of a knight or baronet. Slang sense of "woman" first attested 1902 in American English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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