gov·​ern·​ess | \ ˈgə-vər-nəs How to pronounce governess (audio) \

Definition of governess

1 : a woman who governs
2 : a woman who cares for and supervises a child especially in a private household

Examples of governess in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web This secures Sue in her resolve to move to Boston and become a governess. Kristin Vartan,, "The Dickinson recap binge guide: Episodes 1-10," 11 Nov. 2019 The governess starts to suspect the kids are being visited by ghostly apparitions. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "'The Haunting of Hill House' Season 2, 'The Haunting of Bly Manor': Everything We Know About the New Season," 23 Aug. 2019 Bands of pearls festoon their hair, in contrast to the gray-haired demeanor of their governess, a gentle figure peeking in from the right side. Deborah Solomon, New York Times, "Old Mistresses Turn Tables on Old Masters," 16 Dec. 2019 The plot: Two young orphans are cared for by a young governess, who narrates the story—and, well, things get creepy. Bianca Rodriguez, Marie Claire, "'The Haunting of Hill House' Season 2: Everything We Know So Far," 4 Dec. 2019 Would Lillian like to play governess to her two stepchildren? Leah Greenblatt,, "These brilliant new novels offer irresistible family dysfunction," 21 Oct. 2019 The production’s other vocal tour de force came from Mathilda Edge, a first-year Ryan Opera Center member making her Lyric debut as Berta, Rosina’s governess. Howard Reich,, "Lyric Opera review: A wickedly funny ‘Barber of Seville’ begins season," 29 Sep. 2019 Happily, the answer is: a superb suspense writer who is dead set on making her own distinctive mark on the governess-alone-with-weird-children-in-an isolated-house formula. Maureen Corrigan, Washington Post, "Think you’ve read every twist on the nanny-in-distress novel? Ruth Ware adds a new wrinkle.," 8 Aug. 2019 Soward directed Sierra Salazar as the angry, often-violent 6-year-old Helen Keller, whose tantrums demanded the discipline brought by Annie Sullivan as her governess. Don Maines, Houston Chronicle, "Shadow Creek Highs ‘Miracle Worker’ tells story of Helen Keller’s triumph," 11 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'governess.' 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 governess

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for governess

Time Traveler

The first known use of governess was in the 15th century

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Statistics for governess

Last Updated

11 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Governess.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 January 2020.

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More Definitions for governess


How to pronounce governess (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of governess

: a woman who is paid to care for and teach a child in the child's house


gov·​ern·​ess | \ ˈgə-vər-nəs How to pronounce governess (audio) \

Kids Definition of governess

: a woman who teaches and trains a child especially in a private home

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More from Merriam-Webster on governess

Spanish Central: Translation of governess

Nglish: Translation of governess for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of governess for Arabic Speakers

Comments on governess

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


good-natured easy friendliness

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