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  1. a female ruler of an empire.
  2. the consort of an emperor.
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Origin of empress

1125–75; Middle English emperice, emperesse < Anglo-French; Old French emperesse, empereriz < Latin imperātrīcem, accusative of imperātrix, feminine of imperātor. See emperor, -trix

Usage note

See -ess.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for empress


  1. the wife or widow of an emperor
  2. a woman who holds the rank of emperor in her own right
  3. a woman of great power and influence
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Word Origin

C12: from Old French empereriz, from Latin imperātrix feminine of imperātor emperor
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 empress


mid-12c., emperice, from Old French emperesse, fem. of emperere (see emperor). Queen Victoria in 1876 became one as "Empress of India."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper