Word of the Day Archive
Wednesday February 1, 2012
A woman who is the senior member of a group, class, or profession.
Inspector Neele propounded to himself three separate highly coloured reasons why the faithful doyenne of the typists' room should have poisoned her employer's mid-morning cup of tea, and rejected them as unlikely.
-- Agatha Christie, A Pocket Full of Rye
Her physical characteristics had shifted over time, from soft to hard, from blond to gray, and tight to slack and swollen. This doyenne of crochet and pregnancy was to me one woman and all women, because everything about her was variable, including her temperament.
-- Darin Strauss, Chang and Eng
Doyenne only came into common English use in the early 1900s, but it originates in the Old French word deien, which is also the root of the word dean. The suffix -enne is a French suffix for a personal female noun.