Why was clemency trending last week?


[guhv-er-nis] /ˈgʌv ər nɪs/
a woman who is employed to take charge of a child's upbringing, education, etc.
Archaic. a woman who is a ruler or governor.
Origin of governess
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English governeress < Old French gouverneresse, feminine of gouverneur governor; see -ess
Related forms
governessy, adjective
subgoverness, noun
undergoverness, noun
Usage note
See -ess. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for governess
  • 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.
  • When our parents found out, they were absolutely furious with the governess.
  • Her governess, a registered nurse, decided to quit and volunteer as a military nurse.
  • The screams of the governess attracted the attention of several of the neighbors and people in the house.
British Dictionary definitions for governess


a woman teacher employed in a private household to teach and train the children
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for governess

mid-15c., "female ruler," shortening of governouresse "a woman who rules" (late 14c.), from Old French governeresse "female ruler or administrator" (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
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for governess

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for governess

Scrabble Words With Friends

Quotes with governess