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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)
a first or principal female singer of an opera company.
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
1760-70; < Italian: literally, first lady; see prime, duenna Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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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
a female operatic star; diva
(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

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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