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From Middle English hostesse, from Middle French hostesse, from Old French ostesce, made up of oste (host) + -esce (feminine marker).



hostess (plural hostesses, masculine host)

  1. A female host.
    The host and hostess greeted their guests at the door.
    • 2013 August 10, Lexington, “Keeping the mighty honest”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8848:
      The [Washington] Post's proprietor through those turbulent [Watergate] days, Katharine Graham, held a double place in Washington’s hierarchy: at once regal Georgetown hostess and scrappy newshound, ready to hold the establishment to account.
  2. A female innkeeper.
  3. Stewardess: a woman steward on an airplane.
  4. A bar hostess or bargirl; a paid female companion offering conversation and in some cases sex.


Derived terms[edit]



hostess (third-person singular simple present hostesses, present participle hostessing, simple past and past participle hostessed)

  1. To host, as a woman.
    • 1975, The Arrow of Pi Beta Phi, volume 92, number 2, page 69:
      Later in January, the alum club hostessed the initiation brunch at the Pi Beta Phi chapter house. It was thrilling to see so many girls with such enthusiasm!
    • 1986 fall, MWC Today, volume 11, number 1, page 21, column 1:
      Over the years she has maintained a close relationship with several former students. Currently, she alternates between visiting and hostessing two in Roanoke and Greenville, N.C., respectively, and is a proud godgrandmother to one’s new baby.
    • 2009, Eireann Corrigan, Accomplice, Frome, Som: The Chicken House, published 2010, →ISBN, page 161:
      Dad and I had left early to make sure to get a booth in the back. But when I got there, Teddy Selander’s older sister was hostessing and she said, ‘You’re meeting Dean West? He’s sitting right over here,’ loud enough for everyone to hear.



Unadapted borrowing from English hostess.



hostess f (invariable)

  1. stewardess