- a woman regarded as having the characteristics of a good family and high social position
- a polite name for a woman
- (as modifier): a lady doctor
- an informal name for wife
- lady of the house ⇒ the female head of the household
- a woman with proprietary rights and authority, as over a manor
WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2015
- a woman who is refined, polite, and well-spoken.
- a woman of high social position or economic class.
- any woman;
female:the lady who answered the phone.
- as a polite term; usually in the plural:Ladies and gentlemen, welcome.
- as an offensive term (usually in the singular):"Hey, lady, you're in my way!'' he hollered.
adj. [before a noun]
- Slang Terms[Sometimes Offensive.]female:a lady cabdriver.
n., pl. -dies, adj.
- a woman who is refined, polite, and well-spoken:She may be poor and have little education, but she's a real lady.
- a woman of high social position or economic class:She was born a lady and found it hard to adjust to her reduced circumstances.
- any woman; female (sometimes used in combination):the lady who answered the phone;
- Slang Terms(Used in direct address: often offensive in the singular):Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. Lady, out of my way, please.
- wife:The ambassador and his lady arrived late.
- Slang Terms[Slang.]a female lover or steady companion.
- (cap.) (in Great Britain) the proper title of any woman whose husband is higher in rank than baronet or knight, or who is the daughter of a nobleman not lower than an earl (although the title is given by courtesy also to the wives of baronets and knights).
- World Historya woman who has proprietary rights or authority, as over a manor; female feudal superior. Cf. lord (def. 4).
- (cap.) the Virgin Mary.
- World Historya woman who is the object of chivalrous devotion.
- an attribute or abstraction personified as a woman;
a designation of an allegorical figure as feminine:Lady Fortune;
- a title prefixed to the name of a goddess:Lady Venus.
- Slang Terms[Sometimes Offensive.]being a lady; female:a lady reporter.
- of a lady;
Middle English ladi(e), earlier lavedi, Old English hlǣfdīge, hlǣfdige, perh. origin, originally meaning "loaf-kneader,'' equivalent. to hlāf loaf + -dīge, -dige, variant of dǣge kneader (see dough;
compare Old Norse deigja maid);
In the meanings "refined, polite woman'' and "woman of high social position'' the noun lady is the parallel of gentleman. As forms of address, both nouns are used in the plural (Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your cooperation), but only lady occurs in the singular. Except in chivalrous, literary, or similar contexts (Lady, spurn me not), this singular is now usually perceived as rude or at least insensitive:Where do you want the new air conditioner, lady?Although lady is still found in phrases or compounds referring to occupation or the like (cleaning lady;
saleslady), this use seems to be diminishing. The use of lady as a modifier (lady doctor;
lady artist) suggests that it is unusual to find a woman in the role specified. Many women are offended by this use, and it too is becoming less common.
- (in Britain) a title of honour borne by various classes of women of the peerage
- my lady ⇒ a term of address to holders of the title Lady, used esp by servants
- Our Lady ⇒ a title of the Virgin Mary