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[hoh-stis] /ˈhoʊ stɪs/
a woman who receives and entertains guests in her own home or elsewhere.
a woman employed in a restaurant or place of amusement to receive, seat, or assist patrons.
a woman who acts as master of ceremonies, moderator, or interviewer for a television or radio program; host.
a woman employed by an airline, railroad, bus company, etc., to see that passengers are comfortable throughout a trip, usually receiving and seating them, and sometimes serving them refreshments.
a woman who manages a resort or hotel or who directs its social activities.
verb (used with object)
to be the hostess at (a reception, dinner, etc.):
She will hostess a shower for the new bride.
to act as hostess at, to, or for:
She volunteered to hostess the garden club next season.
verb (used without object)
to perform the duties or functions of a hostess.
Origin of hostess
1250-1300; Middle English (h)ostesse < Old French. See host1, -ess
Related forms
hostess-ship, noun
Usage note
See -ess. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hostess
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • So the hostess had decreed, and so instructed Alfred and Gracie.

    Ester Ried Yet Speaking Isabella Alden
  • "I want to go," she said at last, in answer to her hostess' pleading.

    Ester Ried Yet Speaking Isabella Alden
  • Thus doubtless our hostess reasoned, and in all probability she was right.

    The Roof of France Matilda Betham-Edwards
  • It was my fortune to be well known to Madame Van Rensselaer, our hostess.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • When their hostess rose Hewson offered his arm to Miss Hernshaw.

    Questionable Shapes William Dean Howells
British Dictionary definitions for hostess


a woman acting as host
a woman who receives and entertains patrons of a club, restaurant, etc
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 hostess

late 13c., "woman who keeps an inn or public hotel," from host (n.1) + -ess, or from Old French hostesse (Modern French hôtesse). Meaning "woman who presides at a dinner party, etc." recorded by 1822. Also used mid-20c. in sense "female who entertains customers in nightclubs," with overtones of prostitution.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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