[ ahr-bi-tris ]
/ ˈɑr bɪ trɪs /
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a woman who is an arbiter.
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Origin of arbitress

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English, from Middle French arbitresse, equivalent to arbitre arbit(e)r + -esse -ess

usage note for arbitress

What's the difference between arbitress and arbiter? See -ess.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does arbitress mean?

Arbitress is a word for a woman who is an arbitrator—an independent, impartial third party that works to settle a dispute between two opposing sides, often by making a decision that they both agree to.

This process is called arbitration. To act as an arbitrator is to arbitrate. These terms are especially used in the context of negotiations between businesses and labor unions as well as in international disputes.

Many once widely-used gender-specific terms that identify a particular professional person as a woman (such as stewardess) are now much less commonly used. The word arbitress is particularly rare. It’s possible that a woman may use the term arbitress to identify her position or profession, but this is not common. Using the word to refer to a woman who is an arbitrator is likely to be seen as offensive due to implying that her gender is somehow relevant to her role.

Where does arbitress come from?

The first records of the word arbitress come from the 1400s. It comes from the Middle French arbitresse. The suffix -ess is used in the feminine form of nouns, as in goddess and empress.

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British Dictionary definitions for arbitress

/ (ˈɑːbɪtrɪs) /

a female arbitrator
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