1. a woman who receives and entertains guests in her own home or elsewhere.
  2. a woman employed in a restaurant or place of amusement to receive, seat, or assist patrons.
  3. a woman who acts as master of ceremonies, moderator, or interviewer for a television or radio program; host.
  4. a woman employed by an airline, railroad, bus company, etc., to see that passengers are comfortable throughout a trip, usually receiving and seating them, and sometimes serving them refreshments.
  5. a woman who manages a resort or hotel or who directs its social activities.
  6. taxi dancer.
verb (used with object)
  1. to be the hostess at (a reception, dinner, etc.): She will hostess a shower for the new bride.
  2. to act as hostess at, to, or for: She volunteered to hostess the garden club next season.
verb (used without object)
  1. to perform the duties or functions of a hostess.

Origin of hostess

1250–1300; Middle English (h)ostesse < Old French. See host1, -ess
Related formshost·ess-ship, noun

Usage note

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

Related Words for hostesses

host, toastmistress

Examples from the Web for hostesses

Contemporary Examples of hostesses

  • Hostesses twitter on the phone, or just Twitter, to woo A-list guests to pre- and post-inauguration parties.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Coronation of King Obama

    Katty Kay

    January 18, 2009

Historical Examples of hostesses

  • This course with the hostesses of Red Gap had seemed to be merely an excuse for a pause.

    Ruggles of Red Gap

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • But this was not to be without displeasing her hostesses, and she reluctantly submitted.

    Under the Country Sky

    Grace S. Richmond

  • So once more the Camellia Buds were placed in the position of hostesses.

  • While he was greeting her hostesses Goneril cast a rapid glance at him.

  • Dr. Ballard had gone, and his hostesses were awaiting the summons to dinner.


    Clara Louise Burnham

British Dictionary definitions for hostesses


  1. a woman acting as host
  2. a woman who receives and entertains patrons of a club, restaurant, etc
  3. See air hostess
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 hostesses



late 13c., "woman who keeps an inn or public hotel," from host (n.1) + -ess, or from Old French hostesse (Modern French hôtesse). Meaning "woman who presides at a dinner party, etc." recorded by 1822. Also used mid-20c. in sense "female who entertains customers in nightclubs," with overtones of prostitution.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper