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.


[French dy-shes]

noun, plural du·chesses [French dy-shes] /French düˈʃɛs/. French Furniture.

a daybed having a rounded, partially enclosed head and usually a similar foot, sometimes made in two or three pieces able to be used separately (duchesse brisée).

Origin of duchesse

From French, dating back to 1785–95; see origin at duchess
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for duchesses

Contemporary Examples of duchesses

  • Everybody talked to Dominick on that Vanity Fair story—children, servants, mistresses, duchesses, and Von Bülow himself.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Unforgettable Dominick Dunne

    Tina Brown

    August 27, 2009

Historical Examples of duchesses

  • You all try and palm yourselves off for dukes and duchesses, travelling in disguise.

    Diary of a Pilgrimage

    Jerome K. Jerome

  • It's zoziety—the dukes and the duchesses—that ruins all the yong talents.'

    Robert Elsmere

    Mrs. Humphry Ward

  • And Barty would re‑sing it, as desired, and bring in the duchesses.

    The Martian

    George Du Maurier

  • Gloria went to see the princesses and duchesses, and found them at home.

  • What matters it to you, if kings and Duchesses of Burgundy marry?

British Dictionary definitions for duchesses



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



Australian and NZ a dressing table or chest of drawers with a mirror
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 duchesses



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