• synonyms


[bel-duh m, -dam]
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  1. an old woman, especially an ugly one; hag.
  2. Obsolete. grandmother.
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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)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for beldam

Historical Examples

  • To which, after some Perswasion to the contrary, the venerable Beldam waited on her.

    The Works of Aphra Behn

    Aphra Behn

  • "He's only doing it to make sure I'm not a beldam," said Gwen innocently.

    When Ghost Meets Ghost

    William Frend De Morgan

  • "This is a make-peace fashion of thine," said the beldam, relaxing into a smile.

  • "Sir Robert has himself written me about that beldam," said the chamberlain.

  • The beldam sat with her face towards Rodolph and the brigand.

British Dictionary definitions for beldam



  1. archaic an old woman, esp an ugly or malicious one; hag
  2. an obsolete word for grandmother
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Word Origin

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper