Origin of dame

1175–1225; Middle English < Old French < Latin domina, feminine of dominus lord, master

Usage note

Dame is sometimes perceived as insulting when used to refer generally to a woman, unless it is a woman of rank or advanced age.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for dame

woman, miss, matron, female, gal

Examples from the Web for dame

Contemporary Examples of dame

Historical Examples of dame

  • If any dame sent me up for three years and then wanted money from me, do you think she'd get it?

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • One of these wings was set aside for Dame Kronk and the little girl.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • This paper was my contract, and mon petit Dame explained that she was not my mother.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • Mon petit Dame came downstairs, with her grave husband, and kissed me.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • At that time I had no secretary, but mon petit Dame served me as such.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

British Dictionary definitions for dame



(formerly) a woman of rank or dignity; lady
a nun who has taken the vows of her order, esp a Benedictine
archaic, mainly British a matronly or elderly woman
slang, mainly US and Canadian a woman
Also called: pantomime dame British the role of a comic old woman in a pantomime, usually played by a man

Word Origin for dame

C13: from Old French, from Latin domina lady, mistress of a household


noun (in Britain)

the title of a woman who has been awarded the Order of the British Empire or any of certain other orders of chivalry
the legal title of the wife or widow of a knight or baronet, placed before her nameDame Judith Compare Lady
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 dame

early 13c., from Old French dame "lady, mistress, wife," from Late Latin domna, from Latin domina "lady, mistress of the house," from Latin domus "house" (see domestic). Legal title for the wife of a knight or baronet. Slang sense of "woman" first attested 1902 in American English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper