[shat-l-eyn; French shahtuh-len]

noun, plural chat·e·laines [shat-l-eynz; French shahtuh-len] /ˈʃæt lˌeɪnz; French ʃɑtəˈlɛn/.

the mistress of a castle.
the mistress of an elegant or fashionable household.
a hooklike clasp or a chain for suspending keys, trinkets, scissors, a watch, etc., worn at the waist by women.
a woman's lapel ornament resembling this.

Origin of chatelaine

From the French word châtelaine, dating back to 1835–45. See chatelain Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for chatelaine

Historical Examples of chatelaine

  • And there he left him to await the coming of the chatelaine.

  • Rhodes never could think of her as the chatelaine of those wide ranges.

    The Treasure Trail

    Marah Ellis Ryan

  • He was still in a fog, but he saw a ray of hope; this was the Chatelaine, it seemed.

    The Wild Geese

    Stanley John Weyman

  • There was no stationery in the desk, but Mary had a pocket diary in her chatelaine bag.

    A Woman for Mayor

    Helen M. Winslow

  • His own face was in shadow and the chatelaine could not distinguish its features.

    The Lady of Loyalty House

    Justin Huntly McCarthy

British Dictionary definitions for chatelaine



(esp formerly) the mistress of a castle or fashionable household
a chain or clasp worn at the waist by women in the 16th to the 19th centuries, with handkerchief, keys, etc, attached
a decorative pendant worn on the lapel
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 chatelaine

1845, from French châtelaine "a female castellan; wife of a castellan; mistress of a castle or country house;" fem. of châtelain, from Old French chastelain "owner and lord of a castle, castellan, nobleman," from chastel (see chateau). In fashion, as a type of ornamental belt, from 1851; supposed to resemble a chain of keys.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper