soubrette

[soo-bret]
noun
1.
a maidservant or lady's maid in a play, opera, or the like, especially one displaying coquetry, pertness, and a tendency to engage in intrigue.
2.
an actress playing such a role.
3.
any lively or pert young woman.

Origin:
1745–55; < French: lady's maid < Provençal soubreto, derivative of soubret affected, ultimately derivative of Old Provençal sobrar < Latin superāre to be above

soubrettish, adjective
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World English Dictionary
soubrette (suːˈbrɛt)
 
n
1.  a minor female role in comedy, often that of a pert lady's maid
2.  any pert or flirtatious girl
 
[C18: from French: maidservant, from Provençal soubreto, from soubret conceited, from soubra to exceed, from Latin superāre to surmount, from super above]
 
sou'brettish
 
adj

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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

soubrette
1753, theatrical jargon for lady's maid characters in plays and operas, who were usually pert, flirtatious, and intriguing, from Fr., from Prov. soubreto "affected, conceited," fem. of soubret "coy, reserved," from soubra "to set aside," originally "to exceed," from O.Prov. sobrar, from L. superare
"to rise above, overcome," from super "over, above, beyond" (see super-).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

soubrette

in theatre, comic female character usually in the role of a chambermaid. The soubrette role originated in French comedy, one of the earliest examples being Suzanne in Pierre-Augustin de Beaumarchais' Le Mariage de Figaro (1784). Still earlier, Moliere's plays Tartuffe (1664) and Le Bourgeois gentilhomme (1670) contained versions of the character in the roles of Dorine and Nicole

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
She has proved her cleverness in soubrette parts during the last five months.
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