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old maid

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noun
  1. Disparaging and Offensive. an elderly or confirmed spinster.
  2. a fussy, timid, prudish person.
  3. Cards.
    1. a simple game, played with a deck having one card removed, in which the players draw from one another to match pairs and the one holding an odd queen at the end loses.
    2. the loser of such a game.
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Origin of old maid

First recorded in 1520–30

Usage note

The meaning “a spinster” is used with disparaging intent and perceived as insulting. It puts emphasis on the woman’s advanced age and assumed inability to ever attract a husband. See also spinster.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

fuddy-duddygoody-goodymaidenprigprudespinster

Examples from the Web for old maid

Historical Examples

  • It was an old-maid's apprehensions, and you forgot the whole thing.

    Barrington

    Charles James Lever

  • She looks like the picture of the old maid on the old-maid cards.

  • You would as soon hear a 'No' from an old-maid as from the House of Commons.

  • She was an old-maid school-teacher, ugly enough to stop a clock.

    Rough-Hewn

    Dorothy Canfield

  • The duties of an old-maid aunt cannot be entered upon lightly.


British Dictionary definitions for old maid

old maid

noun
  1. a woman regarded as unlikely ever to marry; spinster
  2. informal a prim, fastidious, or excessively cautious person
  3. a card game using a pack from which one card has been removed, in which players try to avoid holding the unpaired card at the end of the game
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Derived Formsold-maidish, adjective
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