One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A lady's maid.
attendant, retainerView synonyms
- ‘I have taken the liberty of retaining an abigail for you; I was surprised your father had not done so.’
- ‘He tried the stables for 133 horses, the kennels for 144 hounds, the attics for 144 abigails or footmen.’
- ‘Two confused servants awaited him - confused and, in the abigail's case, upset.’
- ‘Lady Protheroe sent her abigail ahead and took Croft's arm.’
- ‘I was as close as a young lady might be to her abigail, but it did not help that I could not drag a coherent word out of her.’
Mid 17th century: from the name of a character in The Scornful Lady by Beaumont and Fletcher, possibly in allusion to 1 Sam. 25: 23–24: ‘And when Abigail saw David, she … fell at his feet, and said, “… hear the words of thine handmaid”.’.
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