[chee-chiz-bey-oh or, older use, si-sis-bee-oh; Italian chee-cheez-be-oh]

noun, plural ci·cis·be·i [chee-chiz-bey-ee or, older use, si-sis-bee-ee; Italian chee-cheez-be-ee] /ˌtʃi tʃɪzˈbeɪ i or, older use, sɪˈsɪs biˌi; Italian ˌtʃi tʃizˈbɛ i/. (esp. in Italy during the 17th and 18th centuries)

an escort or lover of a married woman.

Origin of cicisbeo

From Italian Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cicisbeo

Historical Examples of cicisbeo

  • Heretofore, he had shunned everything that could secure for him the reputation of a cicisbeo.


    Marion Harland

  • Gozzi means that he had assumed the rle of Cicisbeo to Mme. Ricci.

  • Love was the great game; every woman had lovers, every married woman openly flaunted her cicisbeo or cavaliere servente.

    The Venetian School of Painting

    Evelyn March Phillipps

  • Mme Boursier, knowing the poverty of her paramour, had paid him as her cicisbeo, squandering upon him her children's patrimony.

    She Stands Accused

    Victor MacClure

  • It must be owned the Lady Louise had some excuse for a measure that seemed to have amazed and horrified her cicisbeo.

    At Last

    Marion Harland

British Dictionary definitions for cicisbeo


noun plural -bei (-ˈbɛːi)

the escort or lover of a married woman, esp in 18th-century Italy

Word Origin for cicisbeo

C18: Italian, of uncertain origin
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 cicisbeo

1718, from Italian cicisbeo "the recognized gallant of a married woman." Perhaps from older French chiche beau "little man," or from Venetian dialect cici "the chattering of women" (imitative, attested in 18c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper