Definition of dame in English:



  • 1(in the UK) the title given to a woman with the rank of Knight Commander or holder of the Grand Cross in the Orders of Chivalry.

    ‘Dame Vera Lynn’
    • ‘Wiltshire Chief Constable Elizabeth Neville has also been honoured and been made a Dame.’
    • ‘The former chairman of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, Ruth Deech, was made a Dame.’
    • ‘Wartime singer Dame Vera Lynn yesterday urged her old friend to ‘take it easy’.’
    • ‘In 1971, she was made a Dame of the British Empire. She died in 1976.’
    • ‘Soon after her return from her 27,400-mile journey, the woman from landlocked Derbyshire was made a Dame.’
    • ‘During her formative years, she was one of Sister Mary Leo's girls - along with two singers destined to be Dames - Kiri Te Kanawa and Malvina Major.’
    • ‘The Knights and Dames of the New Zealand Order of Merit took a British tradition, and gave it a distinctly New Zealand flavour.’
    • ‘She was the first and only woman appointed a Dame of the Order of Australia.’
    • ‘It is a historic first, Dame Elizabeth Taylor, two-time academy award winner, blowing her nose on TV.’
    • ‘His supporters probably deserve some sort of gong - if McArthur can be a Dame for going sailing, this woman must be worth at least an OBE.’
    • ‘Pamela Coward of Middleton Technology School, Manchester, and Ruth Robins, of the Jewish Free School in London, become Dames of the British Empire.’
    • ‘Is that what I call you, do I call you Dame Maggie?’
    • ‘The two British-born stars were honoured as Dames Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.’
    • ‘She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1993.’
    • ‘She won the Booker Prize for The Sea, The Sea in 1978 and was made a CBE in 1976, then a Dame in 1987.’
    • ‘The list also includes Her Majesty The Queen, eight more Dukes, five Marquesses, thirteen Earls, five Viscounts, twenty-three Lords, seven Baronets, fifty-four Knights, two Dames and six Ladies.’
  • 2humorous, archaic An elderly or mature woman.

    ‘a matronly dame presided at the table’
    • ‘‘Appalling mass of cars and charabancs… disgorging Women's Institute dames with white crimped hair and legs awry ’, he noted of Forde Abbey.’
    • ‘As Donaldson is regarded as a divisive whipper-snapper by the elderly gents and dames on the Council, the party leader is probably safe until the autumn.’
    • ‘Everyone is upstaged by Eileen Atkins as wealthy Miss Matilda Crawley, the cantankerous dame who sponsors Becky's social ascent.’
    1. 2.1North American informal A woman.
      ‘a rich dame who took her husband to the cleaners’
      • ‘She was no wisecracking dame like Rosalind Russell or goofy, well-meaning wife like Irene Dunne.’
      • ‘Well it's there, just waiting for you to gather single blokes and dames and lock them in the unlit tunnel for a month.’
      • ‘This regal dame occupies a corner of the classroom, always decked out in flawless aerobic outfits.’
      • ‘To call Barbara ‘fickle’ would be putting it mildly: this dame is as cold and calculating as Einstein in a freezer!’
      • ‘Roxie's never going to be a towering intellect, but she's one fun dame.’
      • ‘She was most effective as a lower class dame and no amount of voice training could hide that.’
      • ‘These are the kind of urban wild child dames that I like to drink and party and have great conversations with.’
      • ‘You remind me of this dame I knew once, only it wasn't real, it was a dream.’
      • ‘There's must be a wealthy society dame (preferably played by Margaret Dumont) who is entirely smitten with Groucho, though he walks all over her.’
      • ‘Laury makes an uncomfortable transition from goody-two-shoes to fallen mobster dame, back to goody-two-shoes, and then back to mobster dame.’
      • ‘My quest: what has this dame got that I haven't got?’
      • ‘She's a very reserved and classy dame with impeccable taste in food.’
      • ‘This no-nonsense downtown dame had been working as a lingerie model when she was abruptly called to star in the lead role of a quality film production.’
      • ‘‘The first week it was more of ‘let us check this dame out with her new outfit and everything’.’
      • ‘So I'm talking to a rather fetching dame with a disco outfit circa 1970, when a nebbish second year inserts himself uninvited to our conversation.’
      • ‘Its main characters are played by a dream team of heavyweight Hollywood dames (Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore) whose involvement screams ‘respectability’.’
      • ‘So you and this Duckworth dame and A. are first cousins and L.B. is my second cousin?’
      • ‘The classy and manipulative Kitty is now a gold digging dame with a thrill for danger and dangerous men.’
      • ‘And any dame who loves ‘Babe’ and ice hockey is one I know I can trust.’
      • ‘Mae is a serious role, but Lombard's smart-alecky tough dame isn't far from the screwball heroines for which she's best remembered.’
      lady, girl, member of the fair sex, member of the gentle sex, female
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    2. 2.2British A comic middle-aged female character in modern pantomime, usually played by a man.
      • ‘Three members of the panto's cast are also in the armed forces and, if they were needed for action in the Gulf, the show would also lose its dame and leading baddy.’
      • ‘In Reading last Christmas, the mayor actually joined in as a pantomime dame.’
      • ‘The show must go on for a pantomime dame whose wigs, make-up and eyelashes have been stolen just days before he is due on stage.’
      • ‘If you're doing the dame, you're going for a really tough role.’
      • ‘Gemma Baird plays Princess Rose and Coliseum favourite Eric Potts dons the wig and slippers to play Nurse Nora, the pantomime dame.’
      • ‘But there's no need to travel into the city for the annual dose of dames and dastardly baddies.’
      • ‘For those who hark after the dying traditions, the disappointment at the demise of the pantomime dame is off-set by Gail Watson's appearance as a cross-gendered Peter Pan.’
      • ‘Berwick, 58-year-old dame of dames, writer and co-director, would prefer the Theatre Royal pantomime to remain, in the words of the League Of Gentlemen, a local pantomime for local people.’
      • ‘Last year, Sir Ian, 65, said his only remaining ambition was to appear in the Street - after fulfilling his other desire to play a pantomime dame.’
      • ‘A lot of actors playing dames or other characters provided their own costumes because they got bigger wages if they arrived with a wardrobe.’
      • ‘In an artful piece of grand-ham acting, he plays the stately lecher Sir Harcourt Courtley as a cross between a demon king, a pantomime dame and the Duke of Wellington.’
      • ‘He is about to have a theatrical sex change and play Widow Twankey, the pantomime dame, in Aladdin this Christmas.’
      • ‘Is the life of a pantomime dame all slapstick, panstick and lipstick?’
      • ‘Christmas would not be the same without a pantomime dame.’
      • ‘This new production of Mother Goose, is the only traditional pantomime where the central character is the dame.’
      • ‘Thus last year's folk devil becomes next year's pantomime dame.’
      • ‘She honestly looked like a pantomime dame, but she was very kind.’
      • ‘And, being a pantomime, there is a larger-than-life dame, played by Peter Jones.’
      • ‘Children will love all the other characters including Dishy and Spoony, the two dames and Twinkle, Razzle and Dazzle, three starlets sent down to Earth to search for a missing star.’
      • ‘He was also a member of the New Field Players in the 1950s, where he always played the dame in the pantomimes held to raise money for a new field for Glusburn Cricket Club.’
      individual, person, personage, figure, party, being, human being, fellow, man, woman, mortal, soul, creature
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Middle English (denoting a female ruler): via Old French from Latin domina ‘mistress’.