a woman who holds some title or property from her deceased husband, especially the widow of a king, duke, etc. (often used as an additional title to differentiate her from the wife of the present king, duke, etc.): a queen dowager; an empress dowager.
an elderly woman of stately dignity, especially one of elevated social position: a wealthy dowager.


noting, pertaining to, or characteristic of a dowager: the dowager duchess; to prefer a dowager style of dress.

Origin of dowager

1520–30; < Middle French douag(i)ere, equivalent to douage dower (see endow, -age) + -iere, feminine of -ier -ier2
Related formsdow·a·ger·ism, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for dowager

matron, matriarch, widow

Examples from the Web for dowager

Contemporary Examples of dowager

Historical Examples of dowager

British Dictionary definitions for dowager



  1. a widow possessing property or a title obtained from her husband
  2. (as modifier)the dowager duchess
a wealthy or dignified elderly woman

Word Origin for dowager

C16: from Old French douagiere, from douage dower
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 dowager

1520s, from Middle French douagere "widow with a dower" literally "pertaining to a dower," from douage "dower," from douer "endow," from Latin dotare, from dos (genitive dotis) "dowry" (see dowry).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper