1. Used formerly as a courtesy title for a woman in authority or a mistress of a household.
a. A married woman; a matron.
b. An elderly woman.
3. Often Offensive Slang A woman.
4. Chiefly British
a. A woman holding a nonhereditary title conferred by a sovereign in recognition of personal merit or service to the country.
b. The wife or widow of a knight.
c. Used as the title for such a woman.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin domina, feminine of dominus, lord, master; see dem- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.