[ ley-dee ]
See synonyms for: ladyladies on

noun,plural la·dies.
  1. a woman who is refined, polite, and well-spoken: She may be poor and have little education, but she's a real lady.

  2. a woman of high social position or economic class: She was born a lady and found it hard to adjust to her reduced circumstances.

  1. any woman; female (sometimes used in combination): The lady who answered the phone sounded a little stressed.There was a really nice saleslady at the counter who gave me some advice on what to buy.

  2. (used in direct address: usually offensive in the singular): Ladies and gentlemen, welcome.Lady, out of my way, please.

  3. wife: The ambassador and his lady arrived late.

  4. Slang. a female lover or steady companion.

  5. Lady, (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).

  6. a woman who has proprietary rights or authority, as over a manor; female feudal superior.: Compare lord (def. 4).

  7. Lady, the Virgin Mary.

  8. a woman who is the object of chivalrous devotion.

  9. Usually Lady .

    • 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.

  1. Sometimes Offensive. being a female: a lady reporter.

  2. of a lady; ladylike; feminine.

Origin of lady

First recorded before 900; Middle English ladi(e), earlier lavedi, Old English hlǣfdīge, hlǣfdige, perhaps originally meaning “loaf-kneader,” equivalent to hlāf “bread, loaf” (see loaf1) + -dīge, -dige, variant of dǣge “kneader” (see dough; compare Old Norse deigja “maid”); see lord

usage note For lady

In the meanings “refined, polite woman” and “woman of high social position,” the noun lady is the parallel of gentleman. As forms of address, both nouns are used in the plural ( Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your cooperation ), but only lady occurs in the singular. Except in chivalrous, literary, or similar contexts ( Lady, spurn me not ), this singular is now usually perceived as rude or at least insensitive: Where do you want the new air conditioner, lady? Although lady is still found in phrases or compounds referring to occupation or the like ( cleaning lady; saleslady ), this use seems to be diminishing. The use of lady as a modifier ( lady doctor; lady artist ) suggests that it is unusual to find a woman in the role specified. Many women are offended by this use, and it too is becoming less common.
An approach that is increasingly followed is to avoid specifying the gender of the performer or practitioner. Person or a gender-neutral term can be substituted for lady, such as cleaner for cleaning lady and sales associate or salesclerk for saleslady. When circumstances make it relevant to specify gender, 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. The adjectives male and female can also be used: I feel more comfortable with a female gynecologist, but my sister prefers to see a male one. See also -person, -woman.

synonym study For lady

See woman.

Other words from lady

  • la·dy·hood, noun
  • la·dy·ish, adjective
  • la·dy·ish·ly, adverb
  • la·dy·ish·ness, noun
  • la·dy·less, adjective

Words that may be confused with lady

Words Nearby lady Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use lady in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for lady (1 of 2)


/ (ˈleɪdɪ) /

nounplural -dies
  1. 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

  1. an informal name for wife

  2. lady of the house the female head of the household

  3. history a woman with proprietary rights and authority, as over a manor: Compare lord (def. 3)

Origin of lady

Old English hlǣfdīge, from hlāf bread + dīge kneader, related to dāh dough

British Dictionary definitions for Lady (2 of 2)


/ (ˈleɪdɪ) /

nounplural -dies
  1. (in Britain) a title of honour borne by various classes of women of the peerage

  2. my lady a term of address to holders of the title Lady, used esp by servants

  1. Our Lady a title of the Virgin Mary

  2. archaic an allegorical prefix for the personifications of certain qualities: Lady Luck

  3. mainly British the term of address by which certain positions of respect are prefaced when held by women: Lady Chairman

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