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From Old Spanish duenna or dueña, from Vulgar Latin donna, from Latin domina (Lady). Doublet of dame.


  • IPA(key): /duˈɛ.nə/
    • (file)


duenna (plural duennas)

  1. a chaperon of a young lady, usually an older woman.
    • 1834, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], Francesca Carrara. [], volume III, London: Richard Bentley, [], (successor to Henry Colburn), OCLC 630079698, page 193:
      'Madam, I have a secret to tell you.' Now the very word secret is enough to rouse any one's curiosity; and, giving a quick glance round to see if her duennas were on the alert, she prepared to listen, and I saw that her eye had caught sight of the letter.
    • 1949, Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces:
      Then he placed her in a house and shut her up in a chamber, appointing ten old women as duennas to guard her, and forbade her to go forth to the Seven Palaces.
  2. a governess or nanny.