One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1The wife or widow of a marquess.
- ‘Thanks to the major and minor arcana of good behaviour set out in the book, I am at no loss as to the correct order of precedence as to whether a marchioness or a viscount should be led into dinner first.’
- ‘It was a year ago this very day that the marchioness miscarried the babe.’
- ‘When he learned of her deed, Audubon wrote to his wife that the marchioness had pasted the birds ‘on the walls of one of her Superb Rooms.’’
- ‘The Science Show had two dedicated court reporters on call around the clock, 52 weeks a year (or 24/7 as it's now known), helicopters on standby and research teams analysing every royal nuance down to the lowliest marchioness.’
- ‘Now let's see if they are ready for the new marchioness.’
- ‘They watched as the marquess and his new marchioness performed the extraordinary feat of holding their breath for some time.’
- ‘A month later the new marquis was without a marchioness; his wife Carolyn filed for divorce.’
- ‘It was not often that a marchioness of France underwent the extraordinary question.’
- ‘You did see the marchioness spill her drink on the countess.’
- ‘His travelling companions included Ian Fleming's widow, Anne, and the marchioness of Dufferin.’
- ‘But to his critics his fondness for the marchioness of Londonderry looked like social climbing and a desire for acceptance by the establishment.’
- ‘The marchioness will be fine after a few days' rest.’
- ‘Will you tell anyone who asks that I felt ill and the marchioness accompanied me home?’
- 1.1 A woman holding the rank of marquess in her own right.
Late 16th century: from medieval Latin marchionissa, feminine of marchio(n-) ‘ruler of a border territory’, from marcha ‘march’ (see march).
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