See more synonyms for mistress on Thesaurus.com
  1. a woman who has authority, control, or power, especially the female head of a household, institution, or other establishment.
  2. a woman employing, or in authority over, servants or attendants.
  3. a female owner of an animal, or formerly, a slave.
  4. a woman who has the power of controlling or disposing of something at her own pleasure: mistress of a great fortune.
  5. (sometimes initial capital letter) something regarded as feminine that has control or supremacy: Great Britain, the mistress of the seas.
  6. a woman who is skilled in something, as an occupation or art.
  7. a woman who has a continuing, extramarital sexual relationship with one man, especially a man who, in return for an exclusive and continuing liaison, provides her with financial support.
  8. British. a female schoolteacher; schoolmistress.
  9. (initial capital letter) a term of address in former use and corresponding to Mrs., Miss, or Ms.
  10. Archaic. sweetheart.

Origin of mistress

1275–1325; Middle English maistresse < Middle French, Old French, equivalent to maistre master + -esse -ess
Related formsmis·tressed, adjectivemis·tress-ship, noun

Usage note

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

Examples from the Web for mistress

Contemporary Examples of mistress

Historical Examples of mistress

British Dictionary definitions for mistress


  1. a woman who has a continuing extramarital sexual relationship with a man
  2. a woman in a position of authority, ownership, or control, such as the head of a household
  3. a woman or female personification having control over something specifiedshe was mistress of her own destiny
  4. mainly British short for schoolmistress
  5. an archaic or dialect word for sweetheart

Word Origin for mistress

C14: from Old French; see master, -ess


  1. an archaic or dialect title equivalent to Mrs
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 mistress

early 14c., "female teacher, governess," from Old French maistresse "mistress (lover); housekeeper; governess, female teacher" (Modern French maîtresse), fem. of maistre "master" (see master (n.)). Sense of "a woman who employs others or has authority over servants" is from early 15c. Sense of "kept woman of a married man" is from early 15c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper