beldame

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From late Middle English (1400-1450) bel (fine) + dam (mother), from Old French bele (beautiful) + dame (woman).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

beldame (plural beldames)

  1. (obsolete) A grandmother.
  2. (now archaic) An old woman, particularly an ugly one.
    • 1847, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre:
      ... have a curiosity to hear my fortune told: therefore, Sam, order the beldame forward.
    • 1936, Rollo Ahmed, The Black Art, London: Long, page 25:
      The tablets upon which the events of the day were recorded refer to enchantresses, and we can conclude that they were by no means restricted to ancient beldames.
    • 1982, TC Boyle, Water Music, Penguin 2006, p. 6:
      Suddenly the beldam shrieks as if she's been stuck with a dagger, long rasping insuck of breath: ‘Eeeeeeeee!’

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