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[mad-uh m] /ˈmæd əm/
noun, plural mesdames
[mey-dam, -dahm] /meɪˈdæm, -ˈdɑm/ (Show IPA),
for 1; madams for 2, 3.
(often initial capital letter) a polite term of address to a woman, originally used only to a woman of rank or authority:
Madam President; May I help you, madam?
the woman in charge of a household:
Is the madam at home?
the woman in charge of a house of prostitution.
Origin of madam
1250-1300; Middle English madame < Old French, orig. ma dame my lady; see dame
Can be confused
madam, madame. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for madam
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Well, I've got to take the madam and the young folks over to the Casino.

    The Spenders Harry Leon Wilson
  • Indeed, madam, you did me justice to say, I have no inclination to marry at all.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • I would no more dishonour my family, madam, than my brother would.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • I beg your pardon, dear madam, and your patience with me on such an occasion as this.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • You, madam, shall see all the letters that have passed between us.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
British Dictionary definitions for madam


noun (pl) madams, (for sense 1) mesdames (ˈmeɪˌdæm)
a polite term of address for a woman, esp one considered to be of relatively high social status
a woman who runs a brothel
(Brit, informal) a precocious or pompous little girl
(South African, informal) the madam, the lady of the house
Word Origin
C13: from Old French ma dame my 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 madam

c.1300, from Old French ma dame, literally "my lady," from Latin mea domina (cf. madonna). Meaning "female owner or manager of a brothel" is first attested 1871.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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