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  1. abbess: context is unclear:
    • ?, ?, Upon the Beadle:
      And therefore in their fury 'tis decreed / This Jezebel must fall as th' other did: / Which fatal resolution to perform / The Cyprian convent they attempt by storm, / Which yet hold out some little time, 'tis said, / Though kept but by the abbess and one maid.
  1. abbess: original cannot be located to check meaning:
    • 1782, ?, Bawd:
      This for the Abbess is a lucky hit.
  1. mother abbess:
    • 1748, John Cleland, Woman of Pleasure:
      I instantly crept softly and posted myself so, that seeing everything minutely, I could not myself be seen; and who should come in but the venerable mother abbess herself! handed in by a tall, brawny young Horse-grenadiers, moulded in the Hercules style: in fine, the choice of the most experience dame, in those affairs, in all London. [...] Her paramour sat down by her: he seemed to be a man of very few words, and a great stomach; for proceeding instantly to essentials, he gave her some hearty smacks, and thrusting his hands into her breasts, disengaged them from her stays, in scorn of whose confinement they broke loose, and sagged down, navel-low at least.


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The following discussion has been moved from Wiktionary:Requests for verification.

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RFV-sense for the "prostitute" sense. I have found a few mentions and a few statements that brothels "have a director, [who runs them] in the manner of an abbess" running a convent, but no uses of the term to mean "prostitute" directly. — Beobach 23:02, 21 November 2010 (UTC) gives nine specific uses, five of "lady abbess" and four of "abbess" alone. —RuakhTALK 14:11, 24 November 2010 (UTC)
Ah, good find — I'll see if I can track down any of the works it cites. — Beobach 20:08, 27 November 2010 (UTC)
Lady abbess seems to just barely pass, but abbess seems to fail: one of those four citations is not English, one is for "mother abbess" not "abbess", and I can't find the third to check whether it supports the given meaning or not, meaning we only have one citation that might support it. — Beobach 22:06, 2 December 2010 (UTC)
RFV-failed. - -sche (discuss) 20:48, 8 August 2011 (UTC)