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[muh-don-uh] /məˈdɒn ə/
the Virgin Mary (usually preceded by the).
a picture or statue representing the Virgin Mary.
(lowercase) Archaic. an Italian title of formal address to a woman.
Origin of Madonna
1575-85; < Italian: my lady Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for Madonna
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Could the Madonna, who was so maternal, desire the woe of lovers?

  • She was a widow before she was a mother; may the Madonna comfort her.'

    A Spirit in Prison Robert Hichens
  • Some Madonna, they'll say; the very picture of the mother of God herself!

    The Christian Hall Caine
  • "Madonna, you are in error," I informed her, speaking slowly.

    The Shame of Motley Raphael Sabatini
  • Arrived there, Madonna Paola took affairs into her own hands.

    The Shame of Motley Raphael Sabatini
British Dictionary definitions for Madonna


(mainly RC Church) a designation of the Virgin Mary
(sometimes not capital) a picture or statue of the Virgin Mary
Word Origin
C16: Italian, from ma my + donna lady


full name Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone. born 1958, US rock singer and film actress. Her records include "Like a Virgin" (1985), "Like a Prayer" (1989), Ray of Light (1998), Music (2000), and MDNA (2012). Her films include Desperately Seeking Susan (1985) and Evita (1996)
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 Madonna



1580s, "Italian lady," from Italian madonna, from Old Italian ma donna (Italian mia donna) "my lady," from ma "my" + donna "lady," from Latin domina (see dame). Sense of "picture or statue of the Virgin Mary" is from 1640s. The U.S. singer/dancer (full name Madonna Louise Ciccone, b.1958) attained to pop stardom in fall 1984.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Madonna in Culture

Madonna definition

A work of art depicting Mary, the mother of Jesus, especially one that shows her holding the infant Jesus; also a term for Mary herself. Madonna is Italian for “my lady.”

Madonna (Madonna Louise Ciccone)

An American pop singer known for her many incarnations, ranging from an early “Material Girl” to a movie star (Evita) to a mother and wife. Many consider Madonna a promotional genius for her ability to reinvent herself.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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