hand·​maid·​en ˈhan(d)-ˌmā-dᵊn How to pronounce handmaiden (audio)
variants or less commonly handmaid
: a personal maid or female servant
: something whose essential function is to serve or assist
criticism is not the enemy of art but rather its handmaidenGary Michael

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 what is more certain is that Western inaction could drive global South countries toward becoming handmaidens for China’s global ambitions. Happymon Jacob, Foreign Affairs, 25 Dec. 2023 Does Slobodian support their cause by impugning the very project of global governance as a handmaiden of capital? Stephen Wertheim, Foreign Affairs, 16 Apr. 2019 The Rules Committee of the House of Representatives has been called many things: traffic cop, the Speaker’s committee, handmaiden of the Speaker. E. Tammy Kim, The New Yorker, 19 July 2023 Rebecca Lefton at The Center for American Progress (CAP) has written a very useful post and timeline, documenting how the federal government, under Bush, became a handmaiden to the oil and gas industry. Keith Kloor, Discover Magazine, 3 June 2010 In this poignant erotic thriller from South Korean director Park Chan-wook, a woman is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, but she is secretly involved in an elaborate plot to steal her inheritance. Carrie Wittmer, Men's Health, 5 Jan. 2023 What would the United States be like if the civil service were to become a mere handmaiden to an unscrupulous chief executive? Jason Linkins, The New Republic, 23 Sep. 2022 Some of these loan finance projects are an example of the Chinese state almost serving as a handmaiden to its companies. CBS News, 2 Nov. 2022 In Egypt, too, as the story unfolds, Abraham is given shefachot, which the Midrash identifies with Hagar, described later as shifchah Mitzrit (the Egyptian handmaiden), whom Abraham marries (Genesis 12:16, 16:1; Midrash Hagadol). Rabbi Avi Weiss, Sun Sentinel, 31 Oct. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'handmaiden.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near handmaiden

Cite this Entry

“Handmaiden.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/handmaiden. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


hand·​maid·​en -ˌmād-ən How to pronounce handmaiden (audio)
variants also handmaid
: a female servant or attendant
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