noun Older Use.

a female schoolteacher, especially of the old-time country school type, popularly held to be strict and priggish.

Origin of schoolmarm

1835–45, Americanism; variant of schoolma'am
Related formsschool·marm·ish, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for schoolmarm

Historical Examples of schoolmarm

  • "This schoolmarm lady has fainted," announced the mule-skinner.

    Oh, You Tex!

    William Macleod Raine

  • "You can go now," he said, like a schoolmarm dismissing class.


    Gordon Randall Garrett

  • Truly, Smith guarded the Schoolmarm with the vigilance of a sheep-dog.


    Caroline Lockhart

  • Then I must go and see the schoolmarm, remarked Walter, and get her to help me.

    Fighting the Sea

    Edward A. Rand

  • "It seems there is a necessity for a schoolmarm in the family," remarked Linda.

    Talbot's Angles

    Amy E. Blanchard

British Dictionary definitions for schoolmarm


noun informal

a woman schoolteacher, esp when considered to be prim, prudish, or old-fashioned
British any woman considered to be prim, prudish, or old-fashioned
Derived Formsschoolmarmish, adjective

Word Origin for schoolmarm

C19: from school 1 + marm, variant of ma'am . See madam
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 schoolmarm

also school-marm, "female school teacher," 1834, American English colloquial, in countrified humor writing of "Major Jack Downing" of Maine (Seba Smith); variant of school-ma'am (1828), American English, from school (n.1) + ma'am. See R. Used figuratively from 1887 in reference to patronizing and priggish instruction.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper