[ guhv-er-nis ]
/ ˈgʌv ər nɪs /


a woman who is employed to take charge of a child's upbringing, education, etc.
Archaic. a woman who is a ruler or governor.

Origin of governess

1400–50; late Middle English governeress < Old French gouverneresse, feminine of gouverneur governor; see -ess

Related forms

gov·er·ness·y, adjectivesub·gov·ern·ess, nounun·der·gov·ern·ess, noun

Usage note

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

Examples from the Web for governess

British Dictionary definitions for governess


/ (ˈɡʌvənɪs) /


a woman teacher employed in a private household to teach and train the children
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