One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A woman responsible for a child or young person; a female tutor or guardian. Compare later "governess".
2A woman who has authority or influence; (in later use) specifically a female governor. Often figurative and in extended use.
Late Middle English; earliest use found in Thomas Hoccleve (c1367–1426), poet and clerk. Originally (i) from Middle French gouverneresse woman who has authority or influence, female leader, female teacher, tutor, or guardian from gouverneur + -esse.
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