One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An actor who plays the part of the principal female lover or young heroine.
Early 19th century; earliest use found in The Quarterly Review. From French jeune première, lit. ‘first young woman’ from jeune young + première first woman, use as noun of feminine of premier.
jeune première/ˌʒəːn prəmˈjɛː/
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