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 schoolmarms

Historical Examples of schoolmarms

  • Still, if I were recruiting for schoolmarms, I should come here.

    Their Pilgrimage

    Charles Dudley Warner

  • Among these, New England “schoolmarms” and schoolmasters have played an active part, and several were from time to time arrested.

  • The family are all coming home, and the two Folger girls—the schoolmarms—will be here from Nantucket.

    True to His Home

    Hezekiah Butterworth

  • Schoolmarms and masters did not always teach for sweet charitys sake.

    Dixie After the War

    Myrta Lockett Avary

British Dictionary definitions for schoolmarms


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 schoolmarms



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