hand·​maid·​en | \ ˈhan(d)-ˌmā-dᵊn How to pronounce handmaiden (audio) \
variants: or less commonly handmaid \ ˈhan(d)-​ˌmād How to pronounce handmaid (audio) \

Definition of handmaiden

1 : a personal maid or female servant
2 : something whose essential function is to serve or assist criticism is not the enemy of art but rather its handmaiden— Gary Michael

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Synonyms for handmaiden


biddy, char [British], charwoman, house girl, housekeeper, housemaid, maid, maidservant, skivvy [British], wench

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Examples of handmaiden in a Sentence

the princess was intensely shy, and allowed only her handmaiden to enter her chambers

Recent Examples on the Web

But canon wreckers and propagandists such as DuVernay would deny Gish’s accomplishments, overturning rich history for tribal grievance and its handmaiden, ignorance. Armond White, National Review, "Lillian Gish’s Genius Will Outlast Ava DuVernay and the Canon Wreckers," 26 June 2019 After making the special delivery to the devil's handmaiden, Ben’s fate doesn’t look good. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Here's the 'Riverdale' Crossover During 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina' That You Probably Missed," 29 Oct. 2018 With its Lear-jetting shuttle diplomacy, power tactics and air of professionalism, CAA became the handmaiden to Hollywood’s transformation. Richard Rushfield, WSJ, "‘Who Is Michael Ovitz?’ Review: Confessions of a Super Agent," 25 Sep. 2018 Same thing, just the handmaiden to Facebook kind of thing. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Why Amazon is a ‘bully,’ and Facebook and Google are ‘the enemies of independent thought’," 3 Dec. 2018 Moon, who was the handmaiden of the Kim-Trump dialogue back in the spring, was under considerable pressure this week to extract concessions from Kim that could sustain the rapprochement between Washington and Pyongyang. Matthew Pennington, Fox News, "North Korea's offer of concessions comes with a catch for US," 20 Sep. 2018 Nasim Pedrad: plays Dalia, the handmaiden to Princess Jasmine. Sydney Odman, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Aladdin': Everything to Know About the Live-Action Remake of the Disney Classic," 5 July 2018 The Nazis were by no means the handmaidens of German industry or the German military but, as Hett argues, both businessmen and officers formed lobbies in the late 1920s that aimed to break the republic and its bastion, the Social Democrats. Timothy Snyder, New York Times, "How Did the Nazis Gain Power in Germany?," 14 June 2018 Trump has advanced a vision of American democracy that paints the President as all-powerful, the Attorney General and the Congress as his handmaidens, the top law enforcement and intelligence agencies as corrupt bureaucrats. Tessa Berenson, Time, "Donald Trump’s Campaign to Discredit the Russia Investigation May Be Working. It’s Also Damaging American Democracy," 7 June 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for handmaiden

Last Updated

6 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for handmaiden

The first known use of handmaiden was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of handmaiden

somewhat old-fashioned : a female servant or maid

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Comments on handmaiden

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


to complain fretfully

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