One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A woman who took religious vows or a vow of chastity.
sister, novice, abbess, prioress, mother superior, reverend motherView synonyms
- ‘This discourse of spiritual marriage to Christ might also be used by a widow desiring to avoid remarriage by becoming a vowess.’
- ‘Vowesses were often widows but not always.’
- ‘Her chapter concerning the library of the London vowess Margery de Nerford also discusses the events surrounding de Nerford's wardship, forced marriage, ensuing divorce, and legal battles.’
- ‘The Vowess in a blue dress with white hood is kneeling before the Bishop.’
- ‘She was divorced and avoided marriage for the rest of her life, becoming a vowess.’
Early 16th century: from vow + -ess.
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