[mad-uh m]

noun, plural mes·dames [mey-dam, -dahm] /meɪˈdæm, -ˈdɑm/ for 1; mad·ams for 2, 3.

(often initial capital letter) a polite term of address to a woman, originally used only to a woman of rank or authority: Madam President; May I help you, madam?
the woman in charge of a household: Is the madam at home?
the woman in charge of a house of prostitution.

Origin of madam

1250–1300; Middle English madame < Old French, orig. ma dame my lady; see dame
Can be confusedmadam madame Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for madams

Contemporary Examples of madams

Historical Examples of madams

  • What will be the price of the plaintiff's pleadings then, Madams?

  • But there were other Madams and Mademoiselles boarding that train.

    The Magic Curtain

    Roy J. Snell

  • He has his madams to play with, and to bring them back to happiness, and to those that love them.


    Bram Stoker

  • These "madams" of the valet were beginning to fret Sophy cruelly.

    Shadows of Flames

    Amelie Rives

  • "He is one of our national glories," Madams de S— cried out, with sudden vehemence.

    Under Western Eyes

    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for madams


noun plural madams or for sense 1 mesdames (ˈmeɪˌdæm)

a polite term of address for a woman, esp one considered to be of relatively high social status
a woman who runs a brothel
British informal a precocious or pompous little girl
the madam Southern African informal the lady of the house

Word Origin for madam

C13: from Old French ma dame my lady
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 madams


c.1300, from Old French ma dame, literally "my lady," from Latin mea domina (cf. madonna). Meaning "female owner or manager of a brothel" is first attested 1871.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper