- a woman who is refined, polite, and well-spoken: She may be poor and have little education, but she's a real lady.
- a woman of high social position or economic class: She was born a lady and found it hard to adjust to her reduced circumstances.
- any woman; female (sometimes used in combination): the lady who answered the phone; a saleslady.
- (used in direct address: usually offensive in the singular): Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. Lady, out of my way, please.
- wife: The ambassador and his lady arrived late.
- Slang. a female lover or steady companion.
- (initial capital letter) (in Great Britain) the proper title of any woman whose husband is higher in rank than baronet or knight, or who is the daughter of a nobleman not lower than an earl (although the title is given by courtesy also to the wives of baronets and knights).
- a woman who has proprietary rights or authority, as over a manor; female feudal superior.Compare lord(def 4).
- (initial capital letter) the Virgin Mary.
- a woman who is the object of chivalrous devotion.
- (usually initial capital letter)
- an attribute or abstraction personified as a woman; a designation of an allegorical figure as feminine: Lady Fortune; Lady Virtue.
- a title prefixed to the name of a goddess: Lady Venus.
- Sometimes Offensive. being a female: a lady reporter.
- of a lady; ladylike; feminine.
Origin of lady
An approach that is increasingly followed is to avoid specifying the sex of the performer or practitioner. Person or a sex-neutral term can be substituted for lady, as cleaner for cleaning lady and sales associate or salesclerk for saleslady. When circumstances make it relevant to specify sex, woman rather than lady is used, the parallel term being man: Men doctors outnumber women doctors on the hospital staff by more than three to one. See also -person, -woman.
Examples from the Web for ladies
As in the past, you can pull up beside some ladies of the night and call them into your car.I Felt Like Showering After the First-Person Sex in ‘Grand Theft Auto’
November 22, 2014
He knew all about cilantro and the best facial cleanses, but in bed and on the kitchen table he was all about the ladies.How Straight World Stole ‘Gay’: The Last Gasp of the ‘Lumbersexual’
November 12, 2014
The second time we went, it was sort of their favorite of the ladies and their favorite of the guys.How Aidy Bryant Stealthily Became Your Favorite ‘Saturday Night Live’ Star
October 31, 2014
Ladies, awful pick-up lines are about to get a whole lot worse.Ladies’ Men Live Longer
October 30, 2014
So just pretend that stuff never happens, would you, ladies?Renee Zellweger’s Fine, But We Need Some Work: The Toxic Pursuit of ‘Effortless’ Beauty
October 22, 2014
Ladies, ladies—this is degenerating into a mere hammer-fest.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
Ladies should have with them as much jewelry as possible, borrowed or otherwise.
As for my brother, he seemed enchanted with the sight, and especially with the ladies.Explorations in Australia
The gentlemen were smoking, and some of the ladies were trying to look at ease with cigarettes.Malbone
Thomas Wentworth Higginson
I had almost omitted to add, that he was a ladies' haberdasher.
- (functioning as singular) informal a women's public lavatory
- a woman regarded as having the characteristics of a good family and high social position
- a polite name for a woman
- (as modifier)a lady doctor
- an informal name for wife
- lady of the house the female head of the household
- history a woman with proprietary rights and authority, as over a manorCompare lord (def. 3)
- (in Britain) a title of honour borne by various classes of women of the peerage
- my lady a term of address to holders of the title Lady, used esp by servants
- Our Lady a title of the Virgin Mary
- archaic an allegorical prefix for the personifications of certain qualitiesLady Luck
- mainly British the term of address by which certain positions of respect are prefaced when held by womenLady Chairman
Word Origin and History for ladies
plural of lady (q.v.).
c.1200, lafdi, lavede, from Old English hlæfdige "mistress of a household, wife of a lord," literally "one who kneads bread," from hlaf "bread" (see loaf) + -dige "maid," related to dæge "maker of dough" (see dey (1); also compare lord). The medial -f- disappeared 14c. Not found outside English except where borrowed from it.
Sense of "woman of superior position in society" is c.1200; "woman whose manners and sensibilities befit her for high rank in society" is from 1861 (ladylike in this sense is from 1580s, and ladily from c.1400). Meaning "woman as an object of chivalrous love" is from early 14c. Used commonly as an address to any woman since 1890s. Applied in Old English to the Holy Virgin, hence many extended usages in plant names, place names, etc., from genitive singular hlæfdigan, which in Middle English merged with the nominative, so that lady- often represents (Our) Lady's; e.g. ladybug. Ladies' man first recorded 1784. Lady of pleasure recorded from 1640s.