One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1The wife or widow of a count or earl.
- ‘None of the dogs belonging to either the duke and duchess or the earl and countess ever barked.’
- ‘The wives of a king, prince, duke, marquess, earl, viscount and baron are queen, princess, duchess, marchioness, countess, viscountess and baroness respectively.’
- ‘The earl and countess arrived in Devizes from two earlier engagements in Wiltshire, a visit to the Wessex MS Therapy Centre in Warminster and another engagement in Westbury.’
- ‘Enslaved by this ‘tiny universe of rules and whispers,’ she steadfastly refuses to become Derby's mistress, gambling that he will marry her and make her a countess at his wife's death.’
- ‘The burglary at Little Durnford Manor, where the earl and countess have lived since 1966, took place in June 2002.’
- ‘The countess of Lincoln, twice widowed, once by Thomas, earl of Lancaster, and once by Ebulo Lestraunge, and therefore with two dowers, as well as being the Lacy heiress in her own right, was a very worthwhile prospect for anyone on the rise.’
- ‘Mahmood met the countess, married to Prince Edward, at her public relations firm in April.’
- ‘He marries a wealthy, foolish widow, the countess of Lyndon, and takes her name.’
- ‘They had been introduced to most of the guests at the ball, the counts and countesses, princes and princesses, kings and queens.’
- ‘The parents of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, the fourteenth earl and countess of Strathmore, are depicted in a double portrait that usually hangs in the drawing room at Glamis Castle near Dundee.’
- 1.1 A woman holding the rank of count or earl in her own right.
noblewoman, gentlewoman, duchess, peeress, viscountess, baroness, dame, grand dameView synonyms
- ‘On a hillside in leafy Caucade, within spitting distance of Nice airport, is the last home of poets, princes, and countesses, all of them Russian.’
- ‘As already noted, the king sent two countesses, two knights, four ladies and Sir Marmaduke Darell, as paymaster, to meet the royal family as they entered England, and to bring them south.’
- ‘Among those attending that year were the Duke and Duchess of Ancaster, the Duke and Duchess of Gordon, and all manner of countesses, earls, colonels and honourables.’
- ‘I love going to court parties, but they are rarely formal, and are only for lesser barons and countesses, not official King's court balls.’
- ‘He died in comparative poverty, but was buried in Westminster Abbey, where Lady Anne Clifford, countess of Dorset, paid for his handsome monument.’
- ‘In 1902, Mercy dArgenteau, the Princess de Montyglyon, a Belgian countess and hereditary princess of the Holy Roman Empire, journeyed to St. Petersburg, Russia.’
Middle English: from Old French contesse, from late Latin comitissa, feminine of comes (see count).
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