noun, often attributive la·dy \ ˈlā-dē \
|Updated on: 9 Jul 2018

Definition of lady

plural ladies
1 a : a woman having proprietary rights or authority especially as a feudal superior
b : a woman receiving the homage or devotion of a knight or lover
2 capitalized : virgin mary usually used with Our
3 a : a woman of superior social position
b : a woman of refinement and gentle manners
c : woman, female often used in a courteous reference
  • show the lady to a seat
or usually in the plural in address
  • ladies and gentlemen
4 a : wife
5 a : any of various titled women in Great Britain used as the customary title of (1) a marchioness, countess, viscountess, or baroness or (2) the wife of a knight, baronet, member of the peerage, or one having the courtesy title of lord and used as a courtesy title for the daughter of a duke, marquess, or earl
b : a woman who is a member of an order of knighthood — compare dame

Examples of lady in a Sentence

  1. Her mother was always telling her to act like a lady.

  2. He bumped into some lady walking to the bus stop.

  3. He helped a little old lady cross the street.

Recent Examples of lady from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of lady

Middle English, from Old English hlǣfdige, from hlāf bread + -dige (akin to dǣge kneader of bread) — more at loaf, dairy

lady Synonyms

LADY Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of lady for English Language Learners

  • : a woman who behaves in a polite way

  • : a woman of high social position

  • : a man's girlfriend

LADY Defined for Kids


noun la·dy \ ˈlā-dē \

Definition of lady for Students

plural ladies
1 : a woman of high social position
2 : a woman or girl who behaves in a polite way
3 : woman 1
  • The lady behind me was first.
4 : wife
5 : a British noblewoman used as a title
  • Lady Jane Grey

History for lady

Lady was actually formed as a compound word, though its nature has been completely disguised by centuries of sound change. The Old English ancestor of lady was hlǣfdige, “female head of the household.” This compound is made up of hlāf, “loaf, bread,” and -dige, which is thought to mean “kneader,” and is akin to Old English dāg, “dough.” Why the “kneader of dough” was thought to be the most important woman in the household we are not quite sure.

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