). Not found outside English except where borrowed from it. Sense of "woman of superior position in society" is c.1200; "woman whose manners and sensibilities befit her for high rank in society" is from 1861 (ladylike in this sense is from 1580s). Meaning "woman as an object of chivalrous love" is from late 14c. Used commonly as an address to any woman since 1890s. Applied in O.E. to the Holy Virgin, hence many extended usages in plant names, etc., from gen. sing. hlæfdigan, which in M.E. merged with the nominative, so that lady- often represents (Our) Lady's; e.g. ladybug
. Ladies' man first recorded 1784.