- (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
- a French title of respect equivalent to “Mrs.”, used alone or prefixed to a woman's married name or title: Madame Curie.
- (in English) a title of respect used in speaking to or of an older woman, especially one of distinction, who is not of American or British origin. Abbreviation: Mme.
Origin of madame
Examples from the Web for mesdames
But tonight, mesdames, I know that the Republic is at fault.The Trampling of the Lilies
True, all true, mesdames and messieurs—I have been your fellow-traveller myself.Arthur O'Leary
Charles James Lever
Mesdames, so kind of you not to forget the most sincere of your servants.A Hungarian Nabob
I have known you only a short time, mesdames, but, thank heaven!Paul and His Dog, v.2 (Novels of Paul de Kock Volume XIV)
Charles Paul de Kock
Let us go, mesdames, said Edouard, let us leave this house at once!Brother Jacques (Novels of Paul de Kock, Volume XVII)
Charles Paul de Kock
- 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
- a married Frenchwoman: usually used as a title equivalent to Mrs, and sometimes extended to older unmarried women to show respect and to women of other nationalities
Word Origin and History for mesdames
plural of French madame (see madam).
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.
1590s, see madam, which is an earlier borrowing of the same French phrase. Originally a title of respect for a woman of rank, now given to any married woman. OED recommends madam as an English title, madame in reference to foreign women.