Definition of dowager in English:



  • 1A widow with a title or property derived from her late husband.

    [as modifier] ‘the dowager duchess’
    [postpositive] ‘the queen dowager’
    • ‘In the front pew were the dowager duchess, the eighth Duke of Rivenston, the Duke of Stafford and the Lady Lorraine.’
    • ‘At the party this dowager duchess looked at me and whispered loudly, ‘It's disgusting!’
    • ‘Amhuinnsuidhe Castle - in effect a Scots baronial house - was built in 1867 by a Scottish architect, and it was the dowager Countess who encouraged the production of Harris Tweed.’
    • ‘Completed in 1602, the temple was named Cihui (Compassion and Wisdom) by the dowager empress.’
    • ‘Some dowagers or widows are noted for their sharp tongue.’
    • ‘Born on Christmas Day, 1901, Alice, the dowager Duchess of Gloucester, lived to see 20 prime ministers and five monarchs.’
    • ‘An even more striking case was that of the dowager Countess of Oxford, a devoted Ricardian who orchestrated opposition to Henry IV in Essex in 1403-4.’
    • ‘A birthday composition for the dowager Duchess of Gloucester was played by the pipes and drums of her regiment, the King's Own Scottish Borderers.’
    • ‘When money had to be raised for death duties after the death of the 8th Duke in 1918, the Stanwick estate, which had been occupied by the dowager duchess and then let after her death, was the logical sacrifice.’
    • ‘When he appeared in Cork in 1491 he was taken up by a number of people who wished to embarrass Henry, including the earls of Kildare and Desmond, Charles VIII of France, and Margaret, dowager duchess of Burgundy.’
    • ‘This is a friend from Scotland, the dowager Countess of Kirkwell.’
    • ‘The dowager countess will be there and you can bet no one will rest until everything is perfect.’
    • ‘Surprised, the dowager duchess sputtered for a few times before exclaiming, ‘Raphael!’’
    • ‘With creative designs incorporated during her many refits, this gracious dowager duchess - now at the ripe old age of 31-is in her prime as she sails into the next millennium, vast, confident and wonderfully stately.’
    • ‘The dowager duchess swiftly turned the knob, and drew the door open a tad, just enough space for the little girl to stride in.’
    • ‘This is no time for political reporters to be holding their noses like dowager duchesses aghast at the vulgarity of the masses.’
    • ‘The dowager duchess is not receiving callers.’
    • ‘It was just one of the highly-prized pins doled out that night to travellers who - against the welter of new, sleek cruisers - remain loyal to Cunard's unpretentious ship: more a dowager duchess than a sea sprite.’
    • ‘By the time she married Prince Albert I of Monaco in 1889, she was a wealthy woman in her own right who carried an important French title as the dowager duchess of Richelieu.’
    • ‘This was commissioned by an Anglo-Irish peeress, the dowager Countess of Sandwich, in circumstances to be explained.’
    1. 1.1informal A dignified elderly woman.
      • ‘The greatest dining establishments age gracefully, of course, like rich dowagers, without a seeming care in the world.’
      • ‘But even this global giant has to listen up, at the annual stakeholders’ meeting, to elderly dowagers complaining that the new parking bollards installed by the consortium clash horribly with their bourgainvillea.’
      • ‘Lady Gwyneth grinned, looking for all the world like an excited child unleashed without adult supervision in a toy shop, instead of a dignified dowager of the ton with three grown-up grandchildren.’
      • ‘A literary dowager I know was immediately enthusiastic: ‘Oh, I would love that.’’
      • ‘In it are splendid Spanish Baroque buildings, some fading like the ghosts of grand dowagers, others newly primped models of the famed restoration of La Habana Vieja.’
      • ‘Troll among the tables, and you'll see dowagers dressed in ermine coats, Japanese power couples with bouffant hairdos, lunching ladies clutching lizard handbags the color of the sky.’
      • ‘No more quiet nights of bridge with dowagers, however elegant.’
      • ‘On the appointed day and time, the dowager's doorbell rang and she walked out onto her porch.’
      • ‘‘I apologize,’ he said, grinning at the three dowagers.’
      • ‘She whispered in the dowager's ear and went off to find the ladies withdrawing room.’
      lady, girl, member of the fair sex, member of the gentle sex, female
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Mid 16th century: from Old French douagiere, from douage dower from douer endow from Latin dotare endow (see dower).