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Lookups spiked on February 17, 2013.


A fictional dowager gained considerable media attention when the season finale of Downton Abbey aired on PBS and Dame Maggie Smith was interviewed on 60 Minutes.

On Downton Abbey, Smith plays Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, the widowed matriarch of the Crawley family and a source of cutting wit.

Dowager means "a woman holding property or a title from her deceased husband." It comes through French from the Latin word meaning "to endow" and is related to dowry.

How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
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