Definition of maiden in English:



  • 1archaic An unmarried girl or young woman.

    ‘two knights fought to win the hand of a fair maiden’
    • ‘Thus disguised as a maiden, Achilles is introduced as his sister into the court of Lycomedes and there joins the company of the king's daughters.’
    • ‘She was humming to herself an enchanting melody, and the young Count stood there entranced by the fair young maiden.’
    • ‘These constricted walkways close one in but then open into wide courtyards where young maidens dance around wells, their sing-song voices light and lustrous.’
    • ‘One by one the maidens waltzed with the young prince, hoping to win his heart, but his heart belonged to Odette.’
    • ‘In the meantime, not far off from where the battle was, a young and fair maiden was riding abroad on her beautiful white stallion, Evelyn.’
    girl, young woman, young lady, miss
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A virgin.
      • ‘Maidens and bachelors who want husbands and wives can dance for their mates.’
      • ‘This paper deals with another manifestation of mortuary garlanding - the custom of making maidens ' garlands for deceased young female virgins.’
      • ‘During the medieval era of chivalry, the names of English maidens and bachelors were put into boxes and drawn out in pairs.’
      • ‘The end of the rite is a year early, and virginal women have gathered to burn their tassels in the presence of the King who is expected to choose his 17th wife from the maidens.’
      • ‘Before the commencement of the festival young maidens put their names into a hat and the young men picked out the name of the girl who would be their partner for the festival.’
      virgin, vestal virgin, chaste woman, unmarried girl, celibate
      View synonyms
  • 2Cricket
    An over in which no runs are scored.

    • ‘The spinner sent down a brace of maiden overs while Flintoff kept up his barrage.’
    • ‘Three maidens and a wicket in the first five overs increased the pressure on the Dolphins batsmen as they set off chasing a big target.’
    • ‘In an innings of 66 overs, there were seven maidens.’
    • ‘‘I felt I bowled as well as I've done for years,’ he says of an impressive display which began with four successive maidens.’
    • ‘The bowlers were very well backed up by the fielders, and the hosts were pegged back to 19 for three from 12 overs, with Koram being the pick of the bowling with three wickets from six maiden overs.’


  • 1attributive (of an older woman) unmarried.

    ‘a maiden aunt’
    • ‘Just as a crusty maiden aunt confined to a retirement home might continue to lecture her long-suffering relatives by letter, she will still be playing the duenna to an errant world, in writing.’
    • ‘Sambrooke, his mother and surviving sisters took possession, and the maiden aunts moved out to Shackerley Hall near Albrighton.’
    • ‘With her death, the Eakins household consisted of three unmarried sisters, a maiden aunt, Tom, and his widowed father.’
    • ‘Hillary, on the other hand, would be spending time with that maiden aunt who reads nothing but the Bible.’
    • ‘In 1926, DH Lawrence stayed there with a couple of maiden aunts while he corrected proofs of Lady Chatterley's Lover.’
    • ‘In the summers his mother used to return with the kids from Limerick to her native Dublin, where he would be surrounded by his granny and a selection of doting maiden aunts.’
    • ‘Now we have responsibility for my 88 year old cantankerous maiden aunt who suffers from moderately severe dementia and resides in a rest home.’
    • ‘My first name sounds like someone's maiden aunt.’
    • ‘Four years later, when Lotty was sixteen years old, we find one of the maiden aunts writing that her sister Rachel had taken Lotty and her mother to see Eccleshall church.’
    • ‘"She inherited the place from a maiden aunt, " Erica said.’
    • ‘But Virginie is sent to Paris at the behest of a rich maiden aunt who desires to educate her to receive her fortune.’
    • ‘Be careful in this colour as you could end up looking like either your maiden aunt Mable or one of the VonTrapp children.’
    • ‘They were all ‘clean’ shows to which one could take one's maiden aunt - indeed the cast of the shows contained only a few females.’
    • ‘She decides to pack an overnight case and visit her maiden aunt, off in the country.’
    • ‘And when I went to school it was a whole generation, all the teachers were all maiden ladies, and I think all of their young men went away and never came back.’
    • ‘The maiden aunts of Mortimer Brewster, as it turns out, are not totally responsible for their actions, as insanity, to varying degrees, runs in the family.’
    • ‘The Baldwins reminded me of many such maiden ladies I knew back in the Little Town.’
    • ‘Three married aunts had left home, so there were only five maiden aunts at Loynton at the time we were speaking of.’
    • ‘Ah well, there are maiden aunts aplenty in my family, maybe I am keeping up that tradition instead.’
    • ‘You remember Aunt Jane, my father's maiden sister who used to come stay with us almost every summer?’
    unmarried, spinster, unwed, unwedded, single, husbandless, spouseless, celibate
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of a female animal) not having mated.
      ‘the top-priced maiden heifer’
      • ‘The trade was very lively with in-calf and maiden heifers selling very well.’
      • ‘The sale consists of quality in-calf, maiden and weaning breeding heifers.’
      • ‘The study acknowledged that large farms would most likely have a larger number of barren and maiden mares thus a larger number of mares bred in February.’
      • ‘One hundred maiden heifers are entered for the sale ranging in age from 15 to 20 months.’
      • ‘Godolphin Racing added to its juvenile stable recently with the private purchase of the maiden colt Mount Joy for an undisclosed price.’
  • 2attributive Being or involving the first attempt or act of its kind.

    ‘the Titanic's maiden voyage’
    • ‘Rocket man Steve Bennett has started the countdown to his first manned mission - to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' maiden flight.’
    • ‘A hundred years ago Wilbur and Orville Wright astonished the world when their aeroplane, the Kittyhawk, made its maiden flight in North Carolina.’
    • ‘It was, we are told, a ‘perfect maiden flight’ for the new Airbus A380.’
    • ‘For those, especially aviation enthusiasts, who can remember the maiden flight of Concorde, the prospect that the aircraft might never fly again is a poignant one.’
    • ‘The gangway was installed on Friday for a weekend visit by construction workers and their families prior to the transatlantic liner's maiden voyage.’
    • ‘In 1936, the Supermarine Spitfire made its maiden flight.’
    • ‘For a film that traces the journey of a young American Indian who comes to India looking for her roots, Brinda's maiden attempt is described by her director as brilliant.’
    • ‘A stint with the legendary Byron Nelson and an inner determination to take a challenge head on came to fruition with his maiden win - the Western Open in 1974.’
    • ‘The French-built supersonic airliner Concorde made its maiden flight from Toulouse.’
    • ‘The rocket plane made its maiden launch in June from a specially made jet, named White Knight, at an altitude of 15 km.’
    • ‘Chippenham travel agents Lynda and David Brown will get a taste of the high life when they visit the Queen Mary II before the huge ocean liner's maiden voyage.’
    • ‘Anand had won this tournament in his maiden attempt in 1989 and also in 1998, 2003 and now in 2004.’
    • ‘The author recalls the scenes on May 27, 1936, when the first Queen Mary left Southampton on her maiden voyage to New York.’
    • ‘A North Yorkshire couple whose Mediterranean cruise came to an abrupt end when their ship broke down 15 hours into its maiden voyage say they can't wait to get back on board.’
    • ‘In his maiden budget speech Jaswant Singh acknowledged the growth contributed by industry in the current fiscal and talked of consolidating the growth further.’
    • ‘The European manufacturer has already built its first test A380 and is planning a maiden flight for early next year.’
    • ‘Last month, Lemhannas Governor Ermaya, visited the regency to mark the maiden harvest of rice grown using the Thai seeds.’
    • ‘The Schomberg was a 2600-ton clipper on her maiden voyage - the largest wooden ship ever launched from a British yard.’
    • ‘Sidewalk, Goff's maiden Web effort, was the most ambitious launch to date in the history of the Internet.’
    • ‘He is a much more relaxed man now after ‘Autograph’, his maiden attempt as producer, proved a box office hit.’
    first, initial, inaugural, introductory, initiatory, proving
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Denoting a horse that has never won a race, or a race intended for such horses.
      ‘the Beckhampton Maiden Stakes’
      • ‘A fluent winner of a modest maiden race at Beverley last time, Caracara could hardly have scored with more authority.’
      • ‘This progressive two-year-old gained a workmanlike success in a maiden race over this course and distance at the beginning of the month and left the impression that he could step up again.’
      • ‘A maiden race winner at Windsor in June, Pinkerton has run well in both his starts since then, being a good second to Norse Dancer on his latest outing, at Ascot.’
      • ‘Runner-up in a maiden race at Chester last season, Castanea Sativa looks the type to do even better this term, now she is more mature.’
      • ‘It was a particularly good evening for the Kildare trainers and Edward Lynam got a nice surprise when Ennistown Ladys late surge landed the seven furlong maiden race.’
      • ‘The opening two-year-old maiden race was won by a decent horse 12 months ago in Warm Heart, and it would come as no surprise to see this event throw-up another useful youngster.’
      • ‘The three-year-old progressed nicely last season, winding up with a maiden race success over this course and distance.’
      • ‘This daughter of Opening Verse finished a creditable second in a maiden race at Doncaster on her only outing last season.’
      • ‘Green Eyed Lady, sent off favourite to make a winning debut in a maiden race on this course 11 days ago, had to be content with third place behind Distant Mist.’
      • ‘A maiden race winner on his debut last season, Moscow Ballet was beaten less than a length into second by Snow Ridge in the Royal Lodge Stakes at Ascot.’
      • ‘This is a meeting which can throw up some interesting horses for the future from the two-year-old maiden races.’
      • ‘A well-bred three-year-old, Remaal made a winning start to her career in a maiden race over this course and distance last month.’
      • ‘The three-year-old, trained by Mark Johnston, bolted home by eight lengths in a maiden race at Carlisle 12 days ago and looks capable of holding his own in handicap company.’
      • ‘John Gosden's exciting colt fulfilled previous promise when winning an above-average maiden race at Leicester in the style of a useful performer.’
      • ‘The application of blinkers worked a treat on this filly at Ayr last time when she romped home by eight lengths in a maiden race.’
      • ‘This colt came out on top in gritty style in a hot maiden race at Haydock last time and does not look overburdened on his handicap debut.’
      • ‘Easy winner of a maiden race at Newmarket on her debut, the beautifully-bred Carinae possesses the potential to develop into a high-class filly.’
      • ‘Ward also tossed around the idea of bolstering the purses of maiden races so owners of winning horses that break their maidens see a good return on their investment.’
      • ‘The William Haggas-trained filly was sent off favourite on her debut in a maiden race at Salisbury, but ran green and only got going late before being narrowly beaten into third.’
      • ‘Winner of a maiden race at Brighton, High Action was subsequently found wanting in a handicap at Doncaster, finishing only fourth.’
    2. 2.2 (of a tree or other fruiting plant) in its first year of growth.
      • ‘Assuming a maiden plum tree has been purchased, this would be planted in the Autumn and, later on, when the tree has settled down, and you are wondering how to prune plum trees, it should be pruned to a bud, 9 to 12 inches above the height of the lowest branch desired.’
      • ‘If a maiden plum tree is planted, that is, a tree within one year of budding or grafting, pruning may be carried out in the Spring, after deciding on tree form.’


Old English mægden, from a Germanic diminutive meaning ‘maid, virgin’; related to German Mädchen, diminutive of Magd ‘maid’, from an Indo-European root shared by Old Irish mug ‘boy, servant’.