Definition of demoiselle in US English:



  • 1A small, graceful Old World crane with a black head and breast and white ear tufts, breeding in southeastern Europe and central Asia.

    Anthropoides virgo, family Gruidae

    • ‘When first brought to France from the steppes of Russia, the Demoiselle Crane was so named by Queen Marie Antoinette, for its delicate and maiden-like appearance.’
    • ‘Keeping us company were a demoiselle crane on the shore and a flock of waders in the water.’
    • ‘Demoiselle Cranes are the smallest and second most abundant crane species.’
    • ‘Two Demoiselle Cranes were tracked successfully from Mongolia to India.’
    • ‘Lightweight satellite transmitters were attached to a handful of migratory Demoiselle Cranes.’
  • 2A damselfly, especially of the genus Agrion.

    • ‘The banded demoiselle males have a metallic bluish-green body with a central band of blackish-blue pigment on the wings.’
    • ‘The Banded Demoiselle, like all Dragonflies and Damselflies, is a fierce predator.’
    • ‘The Banded Demoiselle only lives for a week or two as an adult, but spends most of its life as a larva (or nymph) underwater.’
    • ‘The Banded Demoiselle belongs to a group of insects called Odonata (meaning toothed jaws) that includes Dragonflies and Damselflies.’
    • ‘Banded Demoiselle larvae need the permanent slow-flowing water of rivers, streams and some canals.’
  • 3A damselfish.

    • ‘What's more, the dominant demoiselle seemed to flaunt her power, chasing her underlings and pinning them into corners of the aquarium.’
    • ‘As we neared the bow, schools of blue maomao, sweepers and demoiselles gradually thickened.’
    • ‘Cape Brett, where you find the famous Hole in the Rock, is a nice scenic dive with huge shoals of demoiselles, blue maomao, koheru and the odd eagle ray.’
    • ‘The tropical fish tank came fully equipped: pumps, filters, hoses, light fixtures, coral arrangements, and a small cadre of lively black-and-white-striped damselfish, also called demoiselles.’
    • ‘Every inch is taken up by plants and animals in a riot of colour, a living mosaic over which patrol vividly coloured wrasse and dense shoals of demoiselles and blue maomao.’
  • 4literary, archaic A young woman.

    • ‘‘Mon demoiselle,’ Garnier said with the slightest hint of sadness, ‘Can you not be courteous to me for this one visit?’’
    • ‘Though his chevaliers are fluent, and faintly half-win the attention of their distractedly listening demoiselles in their silky striped dresses that cling to, then loosen from, their coquettish forms, they all pursue separate dreams.’
    • ‘Twelve years were to pass before Françaix wrote his next ballet, ‘Les demoiselles de la nuit) (The Ladies of the Night).’
    • ‘France shipped boatloads of demoiselles bien choisies (women of good health and upbringing), or filles du roi (king's girls), to raise the numbers and help settle New France.’
    • ‘The goddess, clad in a diaphanous robe, overawes the medieval demoiselles who have gathered to admire their reflections in a mountain pool.’
    young woman, young lady, miss
    View synonyms


Early 16th century (in demoiselle (sense 4)): from French, from Old French dameisele ‘damsel’.