Definition of demoiselle in English:



  • 1A small, graceful Old World crane with a black head and breast and white ear tufts, breeding in south-eastern Europe and central Asia.

    Anthropoides virgo, family Gruidae

    • ‘Keeping us company were a demoiselle crane on the shore and a flock of waders in the water.’
    • ‘Demoiselle Cranes are the smallest and second most abundant crane species.’
    • ‘Two Demoiselle Cranes were tracked successfully from Mongolia to India.’
    • ‘When first brought to France from the steppes of Russia, the Demoiselle Crane was so named by Queen Marie Antoinette, for its delicate and maiden-like appearance.’
    • ‘Lightweight satellite transmitters were attached to a handful of migratory Demoiselle Cranes.’
  • 2A damselfly, especially an agrion.

    • ‘The banded demoiselle males have a metallic bluish-green body with a central band of blackish-blue pigment on the wings.’
    • ‘The Banded Demoiselle only lives for a week or two as an adult, but spends most of its life as a larva (or nymph) underwater.’
    • ‘The Banded Demoiselle belongs to a group of insects called Odonata (meaning toothed jaws) that includes Dragonflies and Damselflies.’
    • ‘The Banded Demoiselle, like all Dragonflies and Damselflies, is a fierce predator.’
    • ‘Banded Demoiselle larvae need the permanent slow-flowing water of rivers, streams and some canals.’
  • 3A damselfish.

    • ‘The tropical fish tank came fully equipped: pumps, filters, hoses, light fixtures, coral arrangements, and a small cadre of lively black-and-white-striped damselfish, also called demoiselles.’
    • ‘What's more, the dominant demoiselle seemed to flaunt her power, chasing her underlings and pinning them into corners of the aquarium.’
    • ‘As we neared the bow, schools of blue maomao, sweepers and demoiselles gradually thickened.’
    • ‘Every inch is taken up by plants and animals in a riot of colour, a living mosaic over which patrol vividly coloured wrasse and dense shoals of demoiselles and blue maomao.’
    • ‘Cape Brett, where you find the famous Hole in the Rock, is a nice scenic dive with huge shoals of demoiselles, blue maomao, koheru and the odd eagle ray.’
  • 4literary, archaic A young woman.

    • ‘The goddess, clad in a diaphanous robe, overawes the medieval demoiselles who have gathered to admire their reflections in a mountain pool.’
    • ‘‘Mon demoiselle,’ Garnier said with the slightest hint of sadness, ‘Can you not be courteous to me for this one visit?’’
    • ‘Twelve years were to pass before Françaix wrote his next ballet, ‘Les demoiselles de la nuit) (The Ladies of the Night).’
    • ‘Though his chevaliers are fluent, and faintly half-win the attention of their distractedly listening demoiselles in their silky striped dresses that cling to, then loosen from, their coquettish forms, they all pursue separate dreams.’
    • ‘France shipped boatloads of demoiselles bien choisies (women of good health and upbringing), or filles du roi (king's girls), to raise the numbers and help settle New France.’
    young woman, young lady, miss
    View synonyms


Early 16th century (in demoiselle (sense 4)): from French, from Old French dameisele ‘damsel’.