chat·e·laine | \ˈsha-tə-ˌlān \

Definition of chatelaine 

1a : the wife of a castellan : the mistress of a château

b : the mistress of a household or of a large establishment

2 : a clasp or hook for a watch, purse, or bunch of keys

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Did You Know?

The original chatelaine's domain was a castle or fort, and the chatelaine's duties were many. To complete them, she certainly needed keys. In the 18th century, the word chatelaine (borrowed from the French châtelaine) took on an additional meaning in English that alluded to this: the word came to be used for a decorative clasp or hook from which chains holding a watch, purse, keys, etc. were suspended. These popular accessories evoked the bunch of keys the original chatelaine had worn of necessity.

Examples of chatelaine in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Tina Plesset of East Hampton donated a 1967 chatelaine owned by her mother. Warren Strugatch, New York Times, "The Leibers Are Gone. But Their Bling Is Back.," 25 May 2018 Vanderbilt needed a chatelaine, and Edith needed financial security. Stuart Ferguson, WSJ, "A Carolina Xanadu," 29 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chatelaine.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of chatelaine

1845, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for chatelaine

French châtelaine, feminine of châtelain

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The first known use of chatelaine was in 1845

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