mesdames Unabridged


noun, plural mesdames [mey-dam, -dahm] , for 1; madams for 2, 3.
(often initial capital letter) a polite term of address to a woman, originally used only to a woman of rank or authority: Madam President; May I help you, madam?
the woman in charge of a household: Is the madam at home?
the woman in charge of a house of prostitution.

1250–1300; Middle English madame < Old French, orig. ma dame my lady; see dame

madam, madame.


[muh-dam, -dahm, ma-; mad-uhm; French ma-dam]
noun, plural mesdames [mey-dam, -dahm; French mey-dam] . (often initial capital letter)
a French title of respect equivalent to “Mrs.”, used alone or prefixed to a woman's married name or title: Madame Curie.
(in English) a title of respect used in speaking to or of an older woman, especially one of distinction, who is not of American or British origin. Abbreviation: Mme.

1590–1600; < French; see madam

madam, madame. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
madam (ˈmædəm)
n , pl (for sense 1) madams, mesdames
1.  a polite term of address for a woman, esp one considered to be of relatively high social status
2.  a woman who runs a brothel
3.  informal (Brit) a precocious or pompous little girl
4.  informal (South African) the madam the lady of the house
[C13: from Old French ma dame my lady]

madame (ˈmædəm, French madam)
n , pl mesdames
a married Frenchwoman: usually used as a title equivalent to Mrs, and sometimes extended to older unmarried women to show respect and to women of other nationalities
[C17: from French. See madam]

mesdames (ˈmeɪˌdæm, French medam)
madame the plural of madam

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

c.1300, from O.Fr. ma dame, lit. "my lady," from L. mea domina (cf. madonna). Meaning "female owner or manager of a brothel" is first attested 1871.

1599, see madam, which is an earlier borrowing of the same Fr. phrase. Originally a title of respect for a woman of rank, now given to any married woman. OED recommends madam as an Eng. title, madame in ref. to foreign women.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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