chat·​e·​laine | \ ˈsha-tə-ˌlān How to pronounce chatelaine (audio) \

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 For women in Victorian Britain, a chatelaine—a set of steel pendants that hung from a brooch at the waist—served as a kind of Swiss Army knife. Peter Saenger, WSJ, "The Things They Carried," 13 Nov. 2020 The villa’s turn of the century chatelaine, the Marchioness of Casa Torres, was a woman of immense Proustian elegance who dressed with the greatest Parisian dressmakers and milliners of the day. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "“Balenciaga and Spanish Painting” Opens at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid," 21 June 2019 The chatelaine was a waist chain worn by Victorian women that was attached to various tools for sewing and other feminine uses. Olivia Martin, Town & Country, "The Jewelry on Game of Thrones Offers Clues to the Season 8 Finale," 18 May 2019 From a historical perspective, Sansa's chain is worn almost like a chatelaine, fixed at the waist. Olivia Martin, Town & Country, "The Jewelry on Game of Thrones Offers Clues to the Season 8 Finale," 18 May 2019 Many of the women guests followed the white theme, but art maven Deedie Rose, chatelaine of the stupendous Rose House, wore vibrant pastels to match her art necklace (Rose had curated some artist jewels for the silent auction). Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "During a Weekend in Dallas, Hamish Bowles Takes in the City’s Vibrant Art Scene From its Public and Private Museums," 1 Nov. 2018 The pathways that trellised the fragrant herb garden outside the chatelaine’s bedroom and in the far-flung potager were made from bricks imported by the British, who used them as ballast for their ships. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "Inside Tory Burch’s Lovingly Restored Antigua Getaway," 15 Aug. 2018 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.

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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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Cite this Entry

“Chatelaine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jan. 2021.

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