a woman who is employed to take charge of a child's upbringing, education, etc.
Archaic. a woman who is a ruler or governor.

1400–50; late Middle English governeress < Old French gouverneresse, feminine of gouverneur governor; see -ess

governessy, adjective
subgoverness, noun
undergoverness, noun

See -ess. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
governess (ˈɡʌvənɪs)
a woman teacher employed in a private household to teach and train the children

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

late 15c., "female ruler," shortening of governouresse "a woman who rules" (see governor + -ess); in the sense of "a female teacher in a private home" it is attested from 1712.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Before she was married, she worked as a governess and a librarian.
The state is not so much a nanny as a high-minded governess.
She had the proper manners of an old-time governess, a schoolteacher or a small
  town librarian.
It deals also with loving but neglectful parents and a bitterly grim governess.
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