[seem-stris or, esp. British, sem-]


a woman whose occupation is sewing.

Origin of seamstress

First recorded in 1605–15; seamst(e)r + -ess

Usage note

See -ess. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for seamstress

tailor, clothier, dressmaker

Examples from the Web for seamstress

Contemporary Examples of seamstress

Historical Examples of seamstress

  • That's the seamstress who was mentioned to me by a small tenant of mine?

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • The supposed Evremonde descends, and the seamstress is lifted out next after him.

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Charles Dickens

  • She did not yet know whether she was present as a seamstress or as a guest.

    In Apple-Blossom Time

    Clara Louise Burnham

  • Lucy Watson, the girl whom you met in the hall just now—is my seamstress.

  • She was a seamstress and a widow with one little daughter, Nettie.

British Dictionary definitions for seamstress


rarely sempstress (ˈsɛmpstrɪs)


a woman who sews and makes clothes, esp professionally
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 seamstress

1640s, with -ess + seamster (also sempster), from Old English seamestre "sewer, tailor, person whose work is sewing," from seam. Originally indicating a woman, but after a while the fem. ending -estre no longer was felt as such and a new one added.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper