dow·​a·​ger | \ ˈdau̇-i-jər How to pronounce dowager (audio) \

Definition of dowager

1 : a widow holding property or a title from her deceased husband
2 : a dignified elderly woman

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of dowager in a Sentence

The estate is owned by a wealthy dowager. the town's dowagers frequently shake their heads over the younger generation

Recent Examples on the Web

But her time with the dowager queen was brief: Katherine died in childbirth in September 1548, and her husband, clouded by accusations of impropriety and treasonous intentions, was executed less than a year later. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Is This the Childhood Home of Lady Jane Grey, England’s Nine-Day Queen?," 3 July 2019 King Henry VIII, accompanied by his sister Margaret, Queen dowager of Scotland, Anne Boleyn and the royal court visit the village of Revel Grove as part of their annual summer progress and the village's Harvest Festival. Denisa Protani,, "Enter for a chance to win tickets for two to time travel to the Maryland Renaissance Festival," 24 June 2019 The detectives trying to identify the woman were not the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot nor the English dowager Jane Marple. National Geographic, "Agatha Christie's adventurous 'second act' plays out in Mesopotamia," 21 Mar. 2019 Sir Michael Kadoorie, the charismatic elder statesman, heir, visionary of today's Peninsula Hotels—and storied car collector himself—sketched out the Quail, now in its 16th year, as a tonic to the storied, more formal dowager, the Concours. Alex Hitz, Town & Country, "The Quail Is the Highlight of Monterey Car Week," 6 Sep. 2018 The Chalk Garden Revival of Enid Bagnold’s comedy about a British dowager who hires a mysterious woman as a gardener and governess. Matt Cooper,, "The week ahead in SoCal theater: 'The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui' and more," 22 June 2018 In the last decade of her life, the empress dowager tried to polish her image by making herself more accessible, especially to Western diplomats. New York Times, "Was This Powerful Chinese Empress a Feminist Trailblazer?," 10 July 2018 In 1943, at the opening of the Metropolitan Opera, Weegee photographed two dowagers in white furs and jewels smiling grimly at the camera, while on the darkened sideline a woman in a dirty coat and stole assesses them. Sarah Boxer, New York Times, "Weegee the Famous: The Master of Down-and-Dirty Street Photography," 1 June 2018 Willetta Street is an oasis populated by affluent hipsters, longtime legacy residents and the occupants of a large, pink dowager apartment building. Michael Kiefer, azcentral, "Why downtown Phoenix's problem with transients defies easy answers," 7 Apr. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of dowager

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dowager

Middle French douagiere, from douage dower, from douer to endow — more at endow

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dowager

Dictionary Entries near dowager





dowager's hump



Statistics for dowager

Last Updated

13 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dowager

The first known use of dowager was in 1530

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dowager



English Language Learners Definition of dowager

: a woman who has inherited property or a title from her dead husband
: an old woman who is very formal or serious

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on dowager

What made you want to look up dowager? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a small bunch of flowers

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!