One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A small, graceful Old World crane with a black head and breast and white ear tufts, breeding in south-eastern Europe and central Asia.
- ‘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.’
- ‘Two Demoiselle Cranes were tracked successfully from Mongolia to India.’
- ‘Demoiselle Cranes are the smallest and second most abundant crane species.’
- ‘Lightweight satellite transmitters were attached to a handful of migratory Demoiselle Cranes.’
- ‘Keeping us company were a demoiselle crane on the shore and a flock of waders in the water.’
2A damselfly, especially an agrion.
- ‘Banded Demoiselle larvae need the permanent slow-flowing water of rivers, streams and some canals.’
- ‘The Banded Demoiselle belongs to a group of insects called Odonata (meaning toothed jaws) that includes Dragonflies and Damselflies.’
- ‘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, like all Dragonflies and Damselflies, is a fierce predator.’
- ‘As we neared the bow, schools of blue maomao, sweepers and demoiselles gradually thickened.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘What's more, the dominant demoiselle seemed to flaunt her power, chasing her underlings and pinning them into corners of the aquarium.’
4archaic, literary A young woman.
young woman, young lady, missView synonyms
- ‘‘Mon demoiselle,’ Garnier said with the slightest hint of sadness, ‘Can you not be courteous to me for this one visit?’’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Twelve years were to pass before Françaix wrote his next ballet, ‘Les demoiselles de la nuit) (The Ladies of the Night).’
- ‘The goddess, clad in a diaphanous robe, overawes the medieval demoiselles who have gathered to admire their reflections in a mountain pool.’
- ‘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.’
Early 16th century (in demoiselle (sense 4)): from French, from Old French dameisele ‘damsel’.
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