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prima donna

[pree-muh don-uh, prim-uh; Italian pree-mah dawn-nah] /ˌpri mə ˈdɒn ə, ˌprɪm ə; Italian ˈpri mɑ ˈdɔn nɑ/
noun, plural prima donnas Italian, prime donne
[pree-me dawn-ne] /ˈpri mɛ ˈdɔn nɛ/ (Show IPA)
1.
a first or principal female singer of an opera company.
2.
a temperamental person; a person who takes adulation and privileged treatment as a right and reacts with petulance to criticism or inconvenience.
Origin of prima donna
1760-1770
1760-70; < Italian: literally, first lady; see prime, duenna
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for prima donna
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The only solo-vocalist was the prima donna par excellence, Mdlle.

  • “I could be Queen of England as easily as I could be a prima donna,” she said mournfully.

    A Singer from the Sea Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr
  • The prima donna was singing the jewel-song from Faust, and not badly.

    The Lure of the Mask Harold MacGrath
  • The tenor of the San Marco troupe rose with the prima donna.

    The Lure of the Mask Harold MacGrath
  • One prima donna, said her father, was enough for any family.

    Caruso and Tetrazzini on the Art of Singing

    Enrico Caruso and Luisa Tetrazzini
  • I'm a prima donna when it comes to singin' that ole favorite.

    David Lannarck, Midget George S. Harney
  • Ask one or two, please—a prima donna of some kind and a pianist, I think.

    Michael E. F. Benson
  • They can always count on me for anything from wardrobe mistress to prima donna.

    Athalie Robert W. Chambers
  • You would have supposed them to be talking about a prima donna concert.

    The Chautauqua Girls At Home Pansy, AKA Isabella M. Alden
British Dictionary definitions for prima donna

prima donna

/ˈpriːmə ˈdɒnə/
noun (pl) prima donnas
1.
a female operatic star; diva
2.
(informal) a temperamental person
Word Origin
C19: from Italian: first 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 prima donna
n.

1782, "principal female singer in an opera," from Italian prima donna "first lady," from Latin prima, fem. of primus "first" (see prime (adj.)) + domina "lady" (see dame). Meaning "temperamental person" first recorded 1834.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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prima donna in Culture
prima donna [(pree-muh, prim-uh don-uh)]

A vain and overly sensitive person who is temperamental and difficult to work with: “That Jenkins girl is a good gymnast, but she certainly is a prima donna.” In opera, the prima donna is the principal female soloist. From Italian, meaning “first lady.”

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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Slang definitions & phrases for prima donna

prima donna

noun phrase

A person of great and touchy self-esteem; a person who requires to be the sole focus of adulatory attention and who indulges in temperamental displays

[1936+; fr Italian, literally ''first lady,'' a title for superstar opera singers and the like]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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9
11
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