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From Middle English lady, laddy, lafdi, lavedi, from Old English hlǣfdīġe (mistress of a household, wife of a lord, lady, literally bread-kneader), from hlāf (bread, loaf) + dīġe (maid), related to Old English dǣġe (maker of dough). Compare also lord. More at loaf, dairy, dough.



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lady (plural ladies)

  1. (historical) The mistress of a household.
    • (Can we date this quote?) chapter 16, in Wycliffe Bible (Genesis):
      "he said to her, From whence comest thou Hagar, the servantess of Sarai (Sarai’s slave-girl), and whither goest thou? Which answered, I flee from the face of Sarai, my lady.”
  2. A woman of breeding or higher class, a woman of authority.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 6, in The China Governess[1]:
      ‘[…] I remember a lady coming to inspect St. Mary's Home where I was brought up and seeing us all in our lovely Elizabethan uniforms we were so proud of, and bursting into tears all over us because “it was wicked to dress us like charity children”. […]’.
    "I would like the dining room to be fully set by tonight; would you do so?" "Yes, my lady".
  3. The feminine of lord.
    • Lowell
      lord or lady of high degree
    • Shakespeare
      Of all these bounds, even from this line to this, [] / We make thee lady.
  4. A title for someone married to a lord.
  5. A title for somebody married to a gentleman.
  6. A title that can be used instead of the formal terms of marchioness, countess, viscountess, or baroness.
  7. (polite or used by children) A woman: an adult female human.
    Please direct this lady to the soft furnishings department.
  8. (in the plural) A polite reference or form of address to women.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, in The Celebrity:
      The Celebrity, by arts unknown, induced Mrs. Judge Short and two other ladies to call at Mohair on an afternoon when Mr. Cooke was trying a trotter on the track. The three returned wondering and charmed with Mrs. Cooke; they were sure she had had no hand in the furnishing of that atrocious house.
    Ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure to be here today. Follow me, ladies!
  9. (slang) Used to address a female.
    Hey, lady, move your car!
  10. (ladies' or ladies) Toilets intended for use by women.
  11. (familiar) A wife or girlfriend; a sweetheart.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Goldsmith to this entry?)
  12. A woman to whom the particular homage of a knight was paid; a woman to whom one is devoted or bound.
    • Waller
      The soldier here his wasted store supplies, / And takes new valour from his lady's eyes.
  13. (slang) A queen (the playing card).
  14. (dated, attributive, with a professional title) Who is a woman.
    A lady doctor.
  15. (Wicca) Alternative form of Lady.
  16. The triturating apparatus in the stomach of a lobster, consisting of calcareous plates; so called from a fancied resemblance to a seated female figure.
  17. (Britain, slang) A five-pound note. (Rhyming slang, Lady Godiva for fiver.)
  18. (slang) A woman’s breast.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


See also[edit]


Most common English words before 1923 in Project Gutenberg: doubt · around · black · #413: lady · truth · turn · hold




From English lady.


lady f (plural ladys)

  1. lady (wife of a lord; important woman)

Further reading[edit]



Borrowing from English lady.


lady f (invariable)

  1. lady (wife of a lord; important woman)

Middle English[edit]


EB1911 - Volume 01 - Page 001 - 1.svg This entry lacks etymological information. If you are familiar with the origin of this term, please add it to the page per etymology instructions. You can also discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.


lady (plural ladys)

  1. lady (important woman)