Definition of lady in US English:



  • 1A woman (used as a polite or old-fashioned form of reference)

    ‘I spoke to the lady at the travel agency’
    as modifier ‘a lady doctor’
    • ‘The lady smiled at how polite this young woman was.’
    • ‘I was forwarded an email from a lady called Joy Wolfe referring to the same report.’
    • ‘My lady doctor, while very sympathetic, says there's nothing that can be done.’
    • ‘An anti fox-hunting lady refers to fox-hunting as a ‘moral issue’.’
    • ‘I went to a salon down in Chinatown, and I think they thought I didn't know Chinese or something, because the lady barely spoke to me at all.’
    • ‘Three of them stared as the lady doctor came over to them and smiled before walking away.’
    • ‘My mind was always too addled to take in any detail or be in the least bit capable of having a polite chat with a lady.’
    • ‘Mr Dick has also refereed female teams and believes the ladies are far more polite than the men.’
    • ‘I thought the lady doctor looked really professional.’
    • ‘As a child we may have learned that it is not polite for a lady to express anger, or that it is a sign of weakness to cry in public, or that men should enjoy physical contact sports and so on.’
    • ‘To begin with, all pregnant ladies should consult a doctor or obstetrician before committing to a training program or considering training while pregnant.’
    • ‘There are one or two ladies he refers to with special tenderness, but he remains unmarried.’
    • ‘He looked up at the lady, she seemed polite and superior, but Jake still didn't seem to like her very much for some reason.’
    • ‘The lady herself refers to herself a misunderstood person in a complex world.’
    • ‘She didn't respond thinking the lady was referring to someone else.’
    • ‘Apart from a few elderly ladies who spoke Cantonese it was pretty dead.’
    • ‘Charney glanced up when the older lady spoke to her.’
    • ‘I was very lucky the other day to engage in conversation with a lady doctor who impressed me as one of the most fascinating people I have ever met.’
    • ‘The waitress spoke a bit of English; the lady at the bar spoke more proficiently.’
    • ‘But when she had gotten to know them, she realized they were very polite towards ladies, and could be very good friends.’
    woman, member of the fair sex, member of the gentle sex, female
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1North American An informal, often brusque, form of address to a woman.
      ‘I'm sorry, lady, but you have the wrong number’
      • ‘I totally lost my professional cool, sputtering, ‘Is this the way to try to get an interview with me, lady!’’
      • ‘That's when I thought, don't snap your fingers at me, lady.’
      • ‘She was wrestling or slapping a young man and he was saying, ‘Listen, lady, I'm hurt, too.’’
      • ‘I mean I know gas prices are high and you probably have taken out a second mortgage just to keep that thing running, but as they say - karma's a bitch, lady.’
      • ‘Soldiers in some units bought their Kevlar armor on Ebay, lady.’
  • 2A woman of superior social position, especially one of noble birth.

    ‘lords and ladies and royalty were once entertained at the house’
    • ‘In Darin's hands, though, it becomes a jaunty social satire on the ladies of society who wear the flowers while little Annie waters them with her tears.’
    • ‘War was messy, and not a thing for delicate gentle lords and gentle ladies to discuss.’
    • ‘It was indeed, the dirty brown hair was neatly combed and the coat was new and clean, he was smiling fit to burst as he entertained giggling ladies and laughing lords.’
    • ‘Joan Valentine, who once worked as a ladies ' maid, describes the distinctions of rank within this society to Ashe Marson in Something Fresh.’
    • ‘I wear fine leather boots now, bought on the High Street and I look like a real lady, I swear.’
    • ‘The introductions continue and soon John has an audience fit for a King, filled with Dukes and Ladies, professors and clergymen.’
    • ‘And, in a manner most inappropriate of a lady in her position, she reached for his hands and moved herself closer.’
    • ‘Kate was warm and kind and funny in the shocking kind of way only a real lady can manage.’
    • ‘Taking on the role of a high society lady as well as wife and new mother, Chopin fit in well with the New Orleans culture.’
    • ‘He married a lady of the Scottish house of Ruthven in 1640.’
    • ‘It was customary for the hostess and ladies to retire to the adjoining drawing room at the end of the meal leaving the men to their own discussions and to drink and smoke.’
    • ‘Examples are the Edinburgh Young Violinist, the enigmatic Dulwich Lady at a Clavichord and The Young Mother at the Hague.’
    • ‘The setting is a small market town where Miss Matty Jenkyns and her friends are ladies of a certain position in society.’
    • ‘My Lady of Quality's diary entry today is actually a copy of a letter from Ms Wilmot, written from the home of the Russian Princess Dashkow.’
    • ‘Mary Martin was once a respectable lady, and her father was a very powerful merchant.’
    • ‘Unless I married a man with an established name and fortune - which of course was nothing more than a pipe dream - I wouldn't be a real lady.’
    noblewoman, gentlewoman, duchess, countess, peeress, viscountess, baroness, dame, grand dame
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 A courteous, decorous, or genteel woman.
      ‘his wife was a real lady, with such nice manners’
      • ‘I have always been hell-bent on being a lady and I have always demanded respect.’
      • ‘Joan Scanlan was a real lady, a mild gentle person and a woman of principle who was never afraid to articulate her views.’
      • ‘From once she arrived in Ballyhaunis that September afternoon until the time she left, she was an absolute lady and spoke wonderfully about local radio and its place in the community.’
      • ‘A perfect lady she was a real friend to everybody.’
      • ‘Elegant and dignified, she was always a lady to her fingertips.’
      • ‘Dolly the Mega-Cat may favour a little Carnation Milk as a nightcap, but, always a lady, never nibbles between meals.’
      • ‘Why are you suddenly acting like the perfect lady Maman always wanted you to be?’
      • ‘The way he acts sometimes, one wonders if he has had any experience of a real lady.’
      • ‘When Devlin announces to his fellows that Alicia is ‘first, last, and always not a lady,’ his desire and regret bear down on him.’
      • ‘Even though they are playing ball, they must always be ladies first and foremost.’
      • ‘One of the old stock, she was a real lady and will be fondly remembered in the area for her many acts of kindness.’
      • ‘This creature sitting across from him had unrefined written all over her delicate features and probably had very little idea of how a real lady should behave.’
      • ‘Her voice held no hint of surprise, and mother, always the lady, acted as if the Prince suddenly showing up at her doorstep was not an inconvenience.’
      • ‘The whores dressed well and always acted like ladies, outside the bedroom.’
      • ‘A real lady she died as she had lived ever so quietly and peacefully in the company of her family.’
      • ‘The king and princess will be coming to spend the day with us and I expect you to act like a real lady.’
      • ‘She's the most wonderful, intelligent person and a real lady, which is hard to find in showbusiness.’
      • ‘She had always been a proper lady, who believed in classic things like courtly love and un-divorceable marriage.’
      • ‘The late Kathleen was a real lady, and a pleasure to know, as all who knew her will testify to.’
      • ‘Of a quiet, kind and inoffensive disposition, she was a real lady.’
    2. 2.2 (in the UK) a title used by peeresses, female relatives of peers, the wives and widows of knights, etc.
      ‘Lady Caroline Lamb’
      • ‘Miss Gazdowick will play Lady McDuff in Macbeth and Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew, while Mr Smith will play Duncan in Macbeth.’
      • ‘Whereas in Burnham Thorpe it may have been Rear Admiral Sir Horatio and Lady Nelson, in Naples it was Mars and Venus.’
      • ‘Noticeable in the room however were Lady Hermon, Esmond Birnie and Leslie Cree.’
      • ‘The Irishman rode Alan Jarvis-trained Lady Pahia to victory in the Mortarmill Organic Dairy Fillies' Stakes.’
      • ‘It was 1477 and Lord Burgh's son, Edward, was preparing to marry Lady Anne Cobham.’
      • ‘She was a Lady who was the wife of a Lord, not a Lady in her own right, of her own fief.’
      • ‘She made her Royal Opera debut as Lady de Hautdesert in Sir Harrison Birtwistle's Gawain in 2000.’
      • ‘Neville Pearce and Colin Snowball won for Lady Anne Middleton.’
      • ‘Of particular interest is this Piano Concerto arranged for Sir Thomas' wife, lady Betty Humby Beecham.’
      • ‘Her children, Viscount Linley and Lady Sarah Chatto, were at her side.’
  • 3one's ladydated A man's wife.

    ‘welcoming the vice president and his lady’
    • ‘It was John Abraham, however, who turned out to be the surprise package of the movie, a fact that even Bipasha who is his lady both in reel and real life today, acknowledges.’
    • ‘Secondly, you could always send your lady to school to learn English, so that you both have some other way of communicating other than by Braille.’
    • ‘Just think: you'll share a common interest with your lady.’
    wife, spouse, bride
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 A woman with whom one is romantically or sexually involved.
      ‘the young man bought a rose for his lady’
      • ‘I have a lady friend that I've lived with for 10 years.’
      • ‘Worse still is the subplot about Callahan's lady friend (played by Alison Eastwood, daughter of Clint).’
      • ‘If you are with a lady friend, make sure you cling to her for dear life and make sure all gestures of affection are as ostentatious as possible.’
      • ‘If he had pulled over, got some fresh air or even slept when he should have, instead of talking to his lady friend on the phone those 10 people would still be alive.’
      • ‘But my lady friend requires a glass of your finest mead!’
      • ‘My grandfather and his lady friend wrote soft core porn together.’
      • ‘But for a 38-year-old burglary suspect, it'll definitely be the last time he skips on the bail posted by a particular lady friend.’
      • ‘Another fun story was a guy who decided to take his lady friend on a unique first date.’
      • ‘I do have a lady friend, but she has her life and I have mine, so we're both happy to stay weekend companions.’
      • ‘One Friday evening I ventured into London to meet a lady friend for dinner.’
      • ‘The problem I had with glitter was when Mia, a young lady friend of mine, sent me a CD in the post (we used to do swaps - David Bowie mainly, but also compilations of our favourite stuff).’
      • ‘But minutes after Colbert picked up a lady friend, they reappeared.’
      • ‘As the evening wore on, bit by bit his head slipped lower and lower until it somehow finished up under his lady friend's arm and it looked like she was carrying the head of Quasimodo.’
      • ‘I don't really understand your problem with your lady friend's enjoyment of a little public exhibition.’
      • ‘Binding him over in the sum of £50 for six months for the breach of the peace, the bench warned Paplinski that he must stay away from his lady friend, and unless he adhered to his bail conditions he would end up in prison.’
      • ‘I have been warmly welcomed by the family and friends of my lady friend and I have never experienced any ethnic discrimination, otherwise so prevalent in Europe.’
      • ‘In front of the prison's thick iron gate, which swirls with razor wire, his lady friend, Debbie, waits to drive him the hundred miles home to Philadelphia.’
      • ‘None of this would be possible without computers to allow Ryanair to do all their sums, and to allow my lady friend to make the purchase.’
      • ‘All the prayers and thoughts from everybody in the United States, my family and a very special lady friend in my life have been giving me the strength to ride this roller coaster.’
      • ‘Your lady friend must be quite the firecracker!’
      sweetheart, woman, girl, partner, significant other, lover, fiancée
      View synonyms
    2. 3.2historical A woman to whom a man, especially a knight, is chivalrously devoted.
  • 4the ladiesBritish A women's public restroom.

    • ‘The toilets were pretty flash, check out the basins in the ladies!’
    • ‘The queue at the bar was impossible, obviously the queue in the ladies was worse.’
    • ‘In the Ladies afterwards were a mother and daughter (late teens) just in front of me.’
    • ‘I went to the ladies, and on the way back my boot got caught on one of the steel steps.’
    • ‘Women come in pairs, sit in pairs, and go to the ladies in pairs.’
    • ‘They were all staring at him wondering what was a man doing in the ladies.’
    • ‘I went and locked myself in the ladies.’
    • ‘An hour later, it's time for a trip to the ladies.’
    • ‘Not always easy to accomplish, cramped in the ladies, but there are some easy ways to get glam in minutes.’


  • it isn't over till the fat lady sings

    • Used to convey that there is still time for a situation to change.

  • ladies who lunch

    • derogatory, informal Women with both the means and the free time to meet each other socially for lunch in expensive restaurants.

      • ‘Employing a designer, meanwhile, is often perceived as an expensive luxury indulged in by ladies who lunch and those intent on keeping up with the Joneses.’
      • ‘For example, rocket was hugely popular in Elizabethan England but then died out in Britain before rising phoenix-like in the 1990s to became the darling of the ladies who lunch.’
      • ‘In addition to the black-tie horse shows that draw the ladies who lunch in all their finery, this year's fair features a rodeo in the centre ring.’
      • ‘So popular did this simple but charming French bistro become that it was routinely referred to as ‘the canteen’ by the Spectrum ladies who lunch.’
      • ‘We went into Frasers for tea, at the time the store's restaurant was quite posh and packed with those ladies who lunch - ie, women who don't work for a living but shop every day and drink coffee with their friends.’
      • ‘That promotion was a huge hit with the ladies who lunch and achieved a notable upturn in the oh-so-discreet Howard's visibility with the Edinburgh public.’
      • ‘Looking younger by any means necessary is on everyone's agenda, from Knightsbridge ladies who lunch to Essex college girls skiving off classes to get a spray tan.’
      • ‘Manchester foodies especially ladies who lunch - are relishing the prospect of a swish new eatery with Lakeland style stamped all over it.’
      • ‘The Nayeb restaurant has been in business for 80 years, but was recently revamped and is full of well-heeled businessmen, secular politicians and ladies who lunch.’
      • ‘It seems that fashion has become more democratic than ever, with anyone with a good eye and access to a second-hand shop able to hold her own with the ladies who lunch.’
  • Lady Bountiful

    • A woman who engages in ostentatious acts of charity, more to impress others than out of a sense of concern for those in need.

      • ‘Pip really will be missed, as she has been a Lady Bountiful on behalf of Orange for so many good arts causes.’
  • Lady Luck

    • Chance personified as a controlling power in human affairs.

      ‘it seemed Lady Luck was still smiling on them’
      • ‘My affair with Lady Luck ended when she started two-timing me with the blackjack dealer.’
      • ‘In Baghdad, they believe Lady Luck may be more dependable than a presidential promise, especially when no time table was offered.’
      • ‘The Lions now will hope Lady Luck continues to smile on them as they take on their arch rivals West Ham at Upton Park on Sunday, kick-off at noon.’
      • ‘Having clawed their way back into the game with goals from Stott and substitute Jarrett, it appeared that Lady Luck was beginning to shine on them in their first game of 2004.’
      • ‘Fortunately, Lady Luck smiled upon me and I located a sample tube of self-cleaning wax lubricant in my toolbox.’
      • ‘If Lady Luck shines on me and I happen to win, I will naturally be celebrating, but the truth is that I am not one of those individuals who is totally immersed in sport to the stage where it warps everything else.’
      • ‘Millions of visitors flock to the city, on south east New Jersey's Absecon Island, to woo Lady Luck in the casinos where cards shuffle and chips snap 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.’
      • ‘Solon makes the point that a success which is delivered by Lady Luck can also be taken away by luck (and often rapidly and unexpectedly at that).’
      • ‘And indeed, there do seem to be people who're always at the right place at the right time, for whom Lady Luck doesn't only smile, but laughs with gay abandon.’
      • ‘After such a slice of good fortune it looked like Lady Luck was smiling on City, particularly after both Brooks and Powell squandered gilt-edged chances from inside the six-yard box, one after the other.’
      destiny, providence, god's will, nemesis, kismet, astral influence, the stars, what is written in the stars, one's lot in life
      View synonyms
  • Lady Muck

    • informal A haughty or pretentious woman (often as a mocking form of address).

      • ‘‘One night - I mighta been out on me front verandah - I heard him say, ‘Come on, Lady Muck, pour us a drink, I've had a hard day at the office.’’
      • ‘Kate Snell does not come on like Lady Muck but she is engaged in the same vulgar trade.’
      • ‘Well we have a question for Lady Muck, also known as Viscountess Gormanston.’
      • ‘I'm a class Lady Muck act in the passenger seat, though.’
      • ‘Other topics have been picked over as well, such as Live 8; and it seems Lady Muck over in Waltham Forest might be considering Making Geldof History.’
  • My Lady

    • A polite form of address to certain noblewomen.

      • ‘‘I'm so sorry, my lady,’ a servant girl said breathlessly, diving in front of her and scooping up the hen easily in her arms.’
  • lady of the house

    • A woman at the head of a household.

      ‘he always asked the lady of the house the shade of paint she would like’


Old English hlǣfdīge (denoting a woman to whom homage or obedience is due, such as the wife of a lord, also specifically the Virgin Mary), from hlāf ‘loaf’ + a Germanic base meaning ‘knead’, related to dough; compare with lord. In Lady Day and other compounds where it signifies possession, it represents the Old English genitive hlǣfdīgan ‘(Our) Lady's’.