mad·​am | \ ˈma-dəm How to pronounce madam (audio) \
plural madams

Definition of madam

1a plural mesdames\ mā-​ˈdäm How to pronounce mesdames (audio) , -​ˈdam \ : lady used without a name as a form of respectful or polite address to a womanRight this way, madam.
b Madam used as a conventional form of address in the salutation of a letter
2 : mistress sense 1 used as a title formerly with the given name but now with the surname or especially with a designation of rank or officeMadam ChairmanMadam President
3 : the female head of a house of prostitution
4 : the female head of a household : wife every once in a while the madam and I will order a book that we've read about— H. S. Truman

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Synonyms for madam


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Examples of madam in a Sentence

the madam and I are planning to go out for a nice dinner on our anniversary
Recent Examples on the Web His private life once again made the headlines when Evans' name was mentioned among the customers for Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss' service. Richard Natale,, "Robert Evans, ‘Chinatown’ producer and Paramount chief, dies at 89," 28 Oct. 2019 The chaos enabled traffickers to open routes through the country, with everyone along the way taking their cut, including local agents, corrupt police and border guards, local mafia, owners of safe houses and ghettoes, and brothel madams. Abigail Haworth, Marie Claire, "The Lost Daughters of Salerno," 1 July 2019 Jeffrey Epstein’s mysterious, alleged madam surfaced Thursday at a California In-N-Out Burger, where a photographer snapped her reading a spy novel while scarfing down a burger and fries. Fox News, "Jeffrey Epstein's alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell photographed at California burger joint: report," 16 Aug. 2019 Investigators, who served search warrants at multiple locations, recovered a plastic bag containing pills allegedly supplied by a prostitute and a madam. Andrew Blankstein, NBC News, "Prosecutors charge man in connection with death of rapper Mac Miller," 4 Sep. 2019 After stints in Sacramento and Sonora, where Belle worked as a madam and Charles continued his lucrative gambling trade, the couple came to San Francisco. Gary Kamiya,, "San Francisco love story: A hooker, her gambling man and a hanging," 23 Aug. 2019 This year, there was also the pirate Jean Lafitte and the madam Josie Arlington, who ran a brothel in Storyville. Sarah M. Broom, The New Yorker, "Who Stays Gone, and Who Can Afford to Return," 12 Aug. 2019 In the aftermath of Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide, the focus on Ghislaine Maxwell, a British heiress and Epstein’s alleged madam, has intensified. Kristen Bellstrom, Fortune, "A New Female Fortune 500 CEO Meets the Glass Cliff: The Broadsheet," 13 Aug. 2019 Ghislaine Maxwell was, according to her accusers, Jeffrey Epstein's protector and procurer, his girlfriend and his madam. Marc Fisher, Anchorage Daily News, "Epstein’s death puts spotlight on girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell," 12 Aug. 2019

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for madam

Middle English, from Anglo-French ma dame, literally, my lady

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Time Traveler for madam

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for madam

Last Updated

7 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Madam.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for madam


How to pronounce madam (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of madam

formal used to politely speak to a woman who you do not know
used at the start of a formal letter to a woman whose name you do not know
used when you are speaking to a woman who has a high rank or position


mad·​am | \ ˈma-dəm How to pronounce madam (audio) \
plural mesdames\ mā-​ˈdäm , -​ˈdam \

Kids Definition of madam

used without a name as a form of polite address to a womanMay I help you, madam?

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More from Merriam-Webster on madam

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for madam

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with madam

Spanish Central: Translation of madam

Nglish: Translation of madam for Spanish Speakers

Comments on madam

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


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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