Definition of chatelaine
1a : the wife of a castellan : the mistress of a châteaub : the mistress of a household or of a large establishment
2 : a clasp or hook for a watch, purse, or bunch of keys
chatelaine was our Word of the Day on 06/23/2010. Hear the podcast!
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.
Origin and Etymology of chatelaine
French châtelaine, feminine of châtelain
First Known Use: 1845
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