—ladyhood, n. —ladyish, adj. —ladyishly, adv. —ladyishness, n. —ladyless, adj./lay"dee/, n., pl. ladies, adj.n.1. a woman who is refined, polite, and well-spoken: She may be poor and have little education, but she's a real lady.2. a woman of high social position or economic class: She was born a lady and found it hard to adjust to her reduced circumstances.3. any woman; female (sometimes used in combination): the lady who answered the phone; a saleslady.4. (Used in direct address: often offensive in the singular): Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. Lady, out of my way, please.5. wife: The ambassador and his lady arrived late.6. Slang. a female lover or steady companion.7. (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).8. a woman who has proprietary rights or authority, as over a manor; female feudal superior. Cf. lord (def. 4).9. (cap.) the Virgin Mary.10. a woman who is the object of chivalrous devotion.11. (usually cap.)a. an attribute or abstraction personified as a woman; a designation of an allegorical figure as feminine: Lady Fortune; Lady Virtue.b. a title prefixed to the name of a goddess: Lady Venus.adj.12. Sometimes Offensive. being a lady; female: a lady reporter.13. of a lady; ladylike; feminine.[bef. 900; ME ladi(e), earlier lavedi, OE hlaefdige, hlaefdige, perh. orig. meaning "loaf-kneader," equiv. to hlaf LOAF + -dige, -dige, var. of daege kneader (see DOUGH; cf. ON deigja maid); see LORD]Usage. 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; forelady; 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.An approach that is increasingly followed is to avoid specifying the sex of the performer or practitioner. Person or a sex-neutral term can be substituted for LADY, as cleaner for cleaning lady, supervisor for forelady, and salesperson or salesclerk for saleslady. When circumstances make it relevant to specify sex, woman not LADY is used, the parallel term being man: Men doctors outnumber women doctors on the hospital staff by more than three to one. See also -person, -woman.
* * *(as used in expressions)Lady Diana Frances SpencerGodey's Lady's BookGodiva LadyGregory Augusta LadyGrey Lady JaneHamilton Emma Ladylady's slipperMontagu Lady Mary WortleyLady Mary PierrepontLady Augusta Ada Byron
* * *▪ British peeragein the British Isles, a general title for any peeress below the rank of duchess and also for the wife of a baronet or of a knight. Before the Hanoverian succession, when the use of “princess” became settled practice, royal daughters were styled Lady Forename or the Lady Forename. “Lady” is ordinarily used as a less formal alternative to the full title of a countess, viscountess, or baroness; where the name is territorial, the “of ” is dropped—thus the Vicountess of A. but Lady A. The daughters of dukes, marquesses, and earls also have, by courtesy, the title of lady prefixed to their forename and surname—e.g., Lady Jane Grey.
* * *