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[dou-uh-jer] /ˈdaʊ ə dʒər/
a woman who holds some title or property from her deceased husband, especially the widow of a king, duke, etc. (often used as an additional title to differentiate her from the wife of the present king, duke, etc.):
a queen dowager; an empress dowager.
an elderly woman of stately dignity, especially one of elevated social position:
a wealthy dowager.
noting, pertaining to, or characteristic of a dowager:
the dowager duchess; to prefer a dowager style of dress.
Origin of dowager
1520-30; < Middle French douag(i)ere, equivalent to douage dower (see endow, -age) + -iere, feminine of -ier -ier2
Related forms
dowagerism, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for dowager
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There would be no chance to escape by the door; the dowager's voice was already audible in the outer office.

    Just Patty Jean Webster
  • I promise you I will,' said the dowager—'here, take the rod!'

  • "You speak English very well, Mademoiselle," said the dowager suddenly.

    Sir Tom Mrs. Oliphant
  • "I dote on 'em," comes back the dowager, and "my daughter" owned up that she "adored" 'em.

    Cape Cod Stories Joseph C. Lincoln
  • The evening was much livelier than those summer evenings when the dowager and Lady Lesbia were present.

    Phantom Fortune, A Novel M. E. Braddon
  • The dowager and "my daughter" left that dinner table trembling all over.

    Cape Cod Stories Joseph C. Lincoln
British Dictionary definitions for dowager


  1. a widow possessing property or a title obtained from her husband
  2. (as modifier): the dowager duchess
a wealthy or dignified elderly woman
Word Origin
C16: from Old French douagiere, from douagedower
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for dowager

1520s, from Middle French douagere "widow with a dower" literally "pertaining to a dower," from douage "dower," from douer "endow," from Latin dotare, from dos (genitive dotis) "dowry" (see dowry).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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