[bel-duh m, -dam]


an old woman, especially an ugly one; hag.
Obsolete. grandmother.

Also bel·dame [bel-duh m, -deym] /ˈbɛl dəm, -ˌdeɪm/.

Origin of beldam

1400–50; late Middle English, equivalent to bel- grand- (< Middle French bel, belle fine; see beau, belle) + dam mother (see dam2) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for beldam

crone, hag

Examples from the Web for beldam

Historical Examples of beldam

British Dictionary definitions for beldam




archaic an old woman, esp an ugly or malicious one; hag
an obsolete word for grandmother

Word Origin for beldam

C15: from bel- grand (as in grandmother), from Old French bel beautiful, from Latin bellus + dam mother, variant of dame
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

Word Origin and History for beldam

"aged woman," 1570s; earlier "grandmother" (mid-15c.), from dame (q.v.) in the sense of "mother" + bel-, Middle English prefix expressing relationship (cf. belfader, belsire "grandfather"), from Old French bel, belle "beautiful, fair, fine" (see belle). This "direct relationship" sense of bel is not found in French, where the prefix is used to form words for in-laws.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper