Definition of damsel in US English:



archaic, literary
  • A young unmarried woman.

    • ‘He would never sense the spirit, the gaiety in courting a young damsel.’
    • ‘Basher introduces us to beautiful damsels, obnoxious sisters, indescribably evil villains and horrifying monsters.’
    • ‘He said: ‘They really enjoyed becoming knights on horseback and medieval damsels.’’
    • ‘Apart from creating the right ambience, damsels dressed in traditional attire of each country stood beside the display and dished out facts about the fare.’
    • ‘The young damsel has been captured by baddie pirate Barbossa because she possesses a rare coin.’
    • ‘The story goes that a young damsel was at the top of the tower when she saw her husband gored to death by a stag he was hunting.’
    • ‘He had heard it said that her innocent demeanour combined with her intelligent mind made her a refreshing change from mindlessly demure damsels.’
    young woman, young lady, miss, girl
    View synonyms


  • damsel in distress

    • humorous A young woman in trouble (with the implication that the woman needs to be rescued, as by a prince in a fairy tale).

      • ‘Don't we have any knights left to take care of the damsels in distress?’
      • ‘I wasn't in the least inclined to go out actually being physical and brave, or doing any kind of smiting of dragons, or rescuing damsels in distress.’
      • ‘She is thereafter the traditional damsel in distress and it would appear that her ‘femaleness’ is what prevents her from saving herself.’
      • ‘I felt as if he was my angel, and I was the damsel in distress.’
      • ‘It's no surprise this archaic system was born out of the medieval ages - jousting matches between knights, damsels in distress and all.’
      • ‘Turrets, towers and battlements now look fit to accommodate any damsel in distress.’
      • ‘His two friends had located him and had enlisted the services of a young girl to pose as a damsel in distress to lure Don Quixote into their hands.’
      • ‘Unlike many would-be damsels in distress, I never imagined myself being rescued by a knight in shining armor.’
      • ‘It is I, sir Trent, Knight of the round table, and protector of damsels in distress.’
      • ‘Do you always go around saving damsels in distress?’
      • ‘I have often been called upon as a quasi-knight in shining car when someone has needed me, and I guess Lea was just a damsel in distress.’
      • ‘Oates stars as a bounty hunter who is persuaded to lead an unnamed and demanding damsel in distress across the desert on horseback.’
      • ‘The St George's Day parade will include the saint and his dragon and damsels in distress.’
      • ‘These were not damsels in distress - they were strong women making a mark, fighting as equal partners with men.’
      • ‘Upon finding out that she was single, the next day there were lots of articles making her out to be a desperate bachelorette, but this woman is no damsel in distress.’
      • ‘You try to be tough when you need to be, and will gladly stand up for any damsel in distress, but you'd rather catch a girl with a little bit of flair.’
      • ‘Wray's career has been forever remembered for her screams in King Kong, a damsel in distress in the grasp of a giant gorilla atop the Empire State Builing.’
      • ‘The original ‘King Kong’ also featured one of movie's all-time damsels in distress, Fay Wray as Ann Darrow.’
      • ‘The fun then moved to the pageant meadow behind the Abbey where around 1,000 people watched St George valiantly rescue a damsel in distress and kill the dragon.’
      • ‘Jessica says women who play the damsel in distress to attract men make her mad.’


Middle English: from Old French dameisele, damisele, based on Latin domina ‘mistress’.