soubrette

[soo-bret]
See more synonyms for soubrette on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. a maidservant or lady's maid in a play, opera, or the like, especially one displaying coquetry, pertness, and a tendency to engage in intrigue.
  2. an actress playing such a role.
  3. any lively or pert young woman.

Origin of soubrette

1745–55; < French: lady's maid < Provençal soubreto, derivative of soubret affected, ultimately derivative of Old Provençal sobrar < Latin superāre to be above
Related formssou·bret·tish, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


Examples from the Web for soubrette

Historical Examples of soubrette

  • But he is carrying on dreadfully with a soubrette in New York.

  • The girls will dance with the two men, the boys with the soubrette.

    Jill the Reckless

    P. G. (Pelham Grenville) Wodehouse

  • It was something to replace the nurse of elder comedy by the soubrette.

  • That a soubrette is always fifteen or twenty years older than she looks.

    The American Credo

    George Jean Nathan

  • Dick has announced his engagement to an actress—a soubrette, too, in a farce-comedy.

    The Smart Set

    Clyde Fitch


British Dictionary definitions for soubrette

soubrette

noun
  1. a minor female role in comedy, often that of a pert lady's maid
  2. any pert or flirtatious girl
Derived Formssoubrettish, adjective

Word Origin for soubrette

C18: from French: maidservant, from Provençal soubreto, from soubret conceited, from soubra to exceed, from Latin superāre to surmount, from super above
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 soubrette
n.

1753, theatrical jargon word for lady's maid characters in plays and operas, who typically were pert, flirtatious, and intriguing, from French, from Provençal soubreto "affected, conceited," fem. of soubret "coy, reserved," from soubra "to set aside," originally "to exceed," from Old Provençal sobrar, from Latin superare "to rise above, overcome," from super "over, above, beyond" (see super-).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper