One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An older woman acting as a governess and companion in charge of girls, especially in a Spanish family; a chaperone.
guard, bodyguard, protector, safeguard, defender, minder, custodianView synonyms
- ‘But, in spite of a large padlock on the door, Leander, a young lover, presents himself during Diego's absence, cajoles the duenna and Mungo, the servant, and gains admission to the lady.’
- ‘She brought an entourage of some sixty people, from her aristocratic duenna, Dona Elvira, to her bishops and chaplains, her ladies, her pages, her fool, her butler and her cooks.’
Mid 17th century: earlier form of Spanish dueña, from Latin domina ‘lady, mistress’.
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