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[dam-zuh l] /ˈdæm zəl/
noun, Literary.
a young woman or girl; a maiden, originally one of gentle or noble birth.
Origin of damsel
1150-1200; Middle English damisel < Anglo-French (Old French damoisele) < Vulgar Latin *dominicella, equivalent to Latin domin(a) lady (see dame) + -i- -i- + -cella feminine diminutive suffix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for damsel
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Surely, sir, you should take shame to hold the damsel against her will.

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
  • I scrutinised him carefully, while Charlotte ran to comfort the damsel.

    The Golden Age Kenneth Grahame
  • There may be more than one claimant for the damsel's affection.

    The Meaning of Evolution Samuel Christian Schmucker
  • Already I have endured more than enough in the interests of this damsel.

    St. Martin's Summer Rafael Sabatini
  • His face was comely as a damsel's, his eyes blue and his hair golden.

    Love-at-Arms Raphael Sabatini
  • Who was the damsel I saw you making up to in the Park the other day?

    The Paliser case Edgar Saltus
British Dictionary definitions for damsel


(archaic or poetic) a young unmarried woman; maiden
Word Origin
C13: from Old French damoisele, from Vulgar Latin domnicella (unattested) young lady, from Latin domina mistress; see dame
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 damsel

late 12c., from Old French dameisele "woman of noble birth" (Modern French demoiselle "young lady"), modified (by association with dame) from earlier donsele, from Gallo-Romance *domnicella, diminutive of Latin domina "lady" (see dame). Archaic until revived by romantic poets, along with 16c.-17c. variant form damozel.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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