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90s Slang You Should Know


[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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for duenna
Historical Examples
  • Azrael began merrily putting on her garments, and helped Mariska also to dress; then she sent the duenna with a message to Hassan.

  • The duenna entered, and remained standing before her master.

    The Pearl of Lima Jules Verne
  • Mary's duenna;—the artist who is supposed to be moulding the wife.

    Orley Farm Anthony Trollope
  • She kept me in sight like a duenna, and strangely ill-treated me.

  • All the while the Duke and the Duchess were in paroxysms of laughter, so well did the duenna act her part.

    The Story of Don Quixote Arvid Paulson, Clayton Edwards, and Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • She felt that she had been rather remiss in her duties as duenna, and was angry with herself.

    Henry Dunbar M. E. Braddon
  • I think it was her duenna who toppled off the edge of the gangway with one of the Chittagong crew in the push to come aboard.

    From Edinburgh to India & Burmah William G. Burn Murdoch
  • 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
  • If I do not hate that woman it will be well, for she is as much a duenna for me as governess for the children!

    Love and Life Charlotte M. Yonge
  • 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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