the wife or widow of a duke.
a woman who holds in her own right the sovereignty or titles of a duchy.

Origin of duchess

1300–50; Middle English duchesse < Anglo-French, Old French, feminine derivative of duc duke; see -ess
Related formsduch·ess·like, adjective

Usage note

See -ess.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for duchess

Contemporary Examples of duchess

Historical Examples of duchess

  • His aunt, the Duchess of Savoy, is a merry dame, and a wise!

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

  • Then of course you would have no objection to my visiting a duchess in the small-pox?

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • Pray, are you at all acquainted, Mrs. Wynne, with the Duchess of A——?

  • I could introduce you to a duchess, but then the fee is high.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • It is very fine to be a Freeland woman--but, believe me, it is much finer to be a duchess.


    Theodor Hertzka

British Dictionary definitions for duchess



the wife or widow of a duke
a woman who holds the rank of duke in her own right

verb (tr)

Australian informal to overwhelm with flattering attention

Word Origin for duchess

C14: from Old French duchesse, feminine of duc duke
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 duchess

c.1300, from Old French duchesse, from Late Latin or Medieval Latin ducissa, fem. of dux (see duke (n.)). Often spelled dutchess until early 19c. (e.g. Dutchess County, New York, U.S.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper