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[doo-en-uh, dyoo-] /duˈɛn ə, dyu-/
(in Spain and Portugal) an older woman serving as escort or chaperon of a young lady.
a governess.
Origin of duenna
1660-70; < Spanish duenna (now dueña) < Latin domina, feminine of dominus master
Related forms
duennaship, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for duenna
Historical Examples
  • She felt that she had been rather remiss in her duties as duenna, and was angry with herself.

    Henry Dunbar M. E. Braddon
  • It is to be observed the duenna was of a most obliging disposition.

    Gomez Arias Joaqun Telesforo de Trueba y Coso
  • Then the duenna resumed, and now came the worst of her story.

    The Story of Don Quixote

    Arvid Paulson, Clayton Edwards, and Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • He told me that O'Brien had the duenna called to his room that morning.

    Romance Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer
  • They must be torn away at once, or my character as duenna is lost for ever.'

    Shawl-Straps Louisa M. Alcott
  • The duenna entered, and remained standing before her master.

    The Pearl of Lima Jules Verne
  • She kept me in sight like a duenna, and strangely ill-treated me.

  • Mary's duenna;—the artist who is supposed to be moulding the wife.

    Orley Farm

    Anthony Trollope
  • That's her instituted governess, duenna, dragon, what you will.

  • The Sisters are the only duenna for you; and back to the convent you shall go to-morrow.

    Remember the Alamo Amelia E. Barr
British Dictionary definitions for duenna


(in Spain and Portugal, etc) an elderly woman retained by a family to act as governess and chaperon to young girls
Word Origin
C17: from Spanish dueña, from Latin domina lady, feminine of dominus master
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 duenna

1660s, "chief lady in waiting upon the queen of Spain," also "an elderly woman in charge of girls from a Spanish family," from Spanish dueña "married lady, mistress" (fem. of dueño "master"), from Latin domina (see dame). Sense extended in English to "any elderly woman chaperon of a younger woman" (1708).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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