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

Definition of madam

1a plural mesdames\ mā-​ˈdäm How to pronounce madam (audio) , -​ˈdam \ : lady used without a name as a form of respectful or polite address to a woman Right 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 office Madam 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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for madam


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Warren Beatty plays McCabe, a drifter and fast-talker who falls in with, and falls in love with, Mrs. Miller (Julie Christie), a madam who offers to improve business at his low-rent brothel. Keith Phipps, Vulture, "The 50 Greatest Western Movies of All Time," 18 Jan. 2021 Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Esptein’s alleged madam, denies having ever given him a massage with a girl under the age of 18, according to sworn deposition that was released Thursday. Andrew Boryga,, "Ghislaine Maxwell says she never gave Jeffrey Epstein a massage with any children," 22 Oct. 2020 When the girls arrive via a broker, often for a sum of around $200-300, they are forced to pay off this debt to the madams. Rebecca Wright, Cnn And Salman Saeed, CNN, "She was tricked as a teen into prostitution. A decade on, she has no work and faces starvation," 26 May 2020 Lou Wooster, in Birmingham, is revered as the madam who saved the city. John Archibald |, al, "Cholera heroes (and villains) tell us who we are," 12 Apr. 2020 A few days later, madam speaker attended a dinner party for about 24 people at the home of state arts commission member Stanlee Gatti’s house. Willie Brown,, "Big names, bigger show give 2019 a grand exit in North Beach," 4 Jan. 2020 The two reportedly first met in the late 1990s, introduced by Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite who accusers say was Epstein’s girlfriend and madam. Karla Adam, Washington Post, "Prince Andrew ‘appalled’ by Epstein reports after footage emerges linking royal with sex offender," 19 Aug. 2019 The most famous and successful prostitute in Anchorage history is Zula Swanson (1891-1973), who transitioned from prostitute to madam to significant landowner during her lengthy stay (1929-1973). David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, "How South Addition became Anchorage’s first red-light district," 10 Feb. 2020 Ten miles south, off the old Cheyenne–Deadwood stagecoach route, is one of the few monuments in the country that is dedicated to a saloon’s madam. Jennifer Percy, Harper's magazine, "The Skinning Tree," 20 Jan. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about madam

Time Traveler for madam

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for madam

Last Updated

2 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Madam.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for madam



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 woman May I help you, madam?

More from Merriam-Webster on madam

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!