mis·​tress ˈmi-strəs How to pronounce mistress (audio)
plural mistresses
: a woman who has power, authority, or ownership: such as
: the female head of a household
the mistress of the house
: a woman who employs or supervises servants
The servants did their mistress's bidding without question.
: a woman who possesses, owns, or controls something
the mistress of a large fortune
Whether mongrels or thoroughbreds … dogs have shared their masters' and mistresses' experiences in almost all walks of life.Robert Rosenblum
: a woman who is in charge of a school or other establishment : headmistress
Mrs. Goddard was the mistress of a school …Jane Austen
: a woman of the Scottish nobility having a status comparable to that of a master (see master sense 3b)
chiefly British : a female teacher or tutor
: a woman who has achieved mastery in some field
She was a mistress of music.
You learn how to chop throats and gouge eyes and stomp insteps … and after eight weeks you're given your diploma, which officially declares you a mistress of unarmed combat.Arthur R. Miller
: a woman considered especially notable for something
After penning several apocalyptic books, she became known as the mistress of doom.
: something personified as female that rules, directs, or dominates
… France was master of the Continent, England mistress of the seas.James MacGregor Burns
Yet he was sharp and self-interested enough (serving, that is, his demanding mistress, Painting) to write more than 400 letters …Ronald Pickvance
: a woman other than his wife with whom a married man has a continuing sexual relationship
archaic : sweetheart
used archaically as a title prefixed to the name of a married or unmarried woman
chiefly Southern US and Midland US
used as a conventional title of courtesy except when usage requires the substitution of a title of rank or an honorific or professional title before a married woman's surname : mrs. sense 1a
: an often professional dominatrix
With each addition of pain or restraint, he stiffens slightly, then falls into a deeper calm, a deeper peace, waiting to obey his mistress.Marianne Apostolides

Examples of mistress in a Sentence

The dog was always obedient to its master and mistress. the master and mistress of the house a married man who has a mistress His wife suspected that the woman she'd seen with him was his mistress.
Recent Examples on the Web The queen consort endured humiliation at the hands of the king, who openly favored his mistress. Dave Kindy, Washington Post, 10 July 2024 What to Do While parts of the Palace of Versailles’ park will be closed for events, the museum, gardens and The Grand Trianon—where the Sun King romanced his mistress—will remain open. Katie Jackson, Robb Report, 9 July 2024 Her wardrobe has subsequently veered between classic bombshell and cruel mistress: hourglass cut-outs and wipe-clean minidresses. Daniel Rodgers, Vogue, 20 June 2024 That’s before Donald enters another legal dispute with a former mistress that closely resembles his later relationship with V. Stiviano (Cleopatra Coleman). J. Kim Murphy, Variety, 19 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for mistress 

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

Word History


Middle English maistresse, from Anglo-French mestresse, feminine of mestre master — more at master

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near mistress

Cite this Entry

“Mistress.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mistress. Accessed 16 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


mis·​tress ˈmis-trəs How to pronounce mistress (audio)
: a woman who has control or authority like that of a master
the mistress of the household
: something considered as a female that rules or directs
: a woman to whom a man is not married and with whom he has a romantic relationship
used formerly as a title before the name of a woman

Middle English maistresse "mistress," from early French mestresse (same meaning), a feminine form of mestre "master" — related to master

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