(initial capital letter)
the official title of a female member of the Order of the British Empire, equivalent to that of a knight.
the official title of the wife of a knight or baronet.
(formerly) a form of address to any woman of rank or authority.
a matronly woman of advanced age; matron.
Slang: Sometimes Offensive. a term used to refer to a woman: Some dame cut me off and almost caused an accident.
Ecclesiastical. a title of a nun in certain orders.
a mistress of a dame-school.
Archaic. the mistress of a household.
Archaic. a woman of rank or authority, especially a female ruler.

1175–1225; Middle English < Old French < Latin domina, feminine of dominus lord, master

Dame is sometimes perceived as insulting when used to refer generally to a woman, unless it is a woman of rank or advanced age.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
dame (deɪm)
1.  (formerly) a woman of rank or dignity; lady
2.  a nun who has taken the vows of her order, esp a Benedictine
3.  archaic chiefly (Brit) a matronly or elderly woman
4.  slang chiefly (US), (Canadian) a woman
5.  (Brit) Also called: pantomime dame the role of a comic old woman in a pantomime, usually played by a man
[C13: from Old French, from Latin domina lady, mistress of a household]

Dame (deɪm)
1.  the title of a woman who has been awarded the Order of the British Empire or any of certain other orders of chivalry
2.  Compare Lady the legal title of the wife or widow of a knight or baronet, placed before her name: Dame Judith

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

early 13c., from O.Fr. dame, from L.L. domna, from L. domina "lady, mistress of the house," from L. domus "house" (see domestic). Legal title for the wife of a knight or baronet. Slang sense of "woman" first attested 1902 in Amer.Eng.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Then the house-dame brought wheaten bread and many dainties.
It may be a refueling, and she'll go down the route of the great grande-dame roles.
Val's looking for work and meets both a dame and his doom.
In the makeover, the grande dame has even acquired a sense of humor.
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