mis·​tress | \ ˈmi-strəs How to pronounce mistress (audio) \

Definition of mistress

1 : a woman who has power, authority, or ownership: such as
a : the female head of a household the mistress of the house
b : a woman who employs or supervises servants The servants were required to do their mistress's bidding without question.
c : 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
d : a woman who is in charge of a school or other establishment : headmistress Mrs. Goddard was the mistress of a school— Jane Austen
e : a woman of the Scottish nobility having a status comparable to that of a master (see master sense 3b)
2a chiefly British : a female teacher or tutor
b : 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
c : a woman considered especially notable for something After penning several apocalyptic books, she became known as the mistress of doom.
3 : 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
4a : a woman other than his wife with whom a married man has a continuing sexual relationship
b archaic : sweetheart
5a used archaically as a title prefixed to the name of a married or unmarried woman
b 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
6 : 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

Synonyms for mistress


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Examples of mistress in a Sentence

Servants were required to do the mistress's bidding without question. 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web As a fashion model for Condé Nast; as mistress, muse and collaborator of Man Ray; and as a celebrity New York photographer, world events never impacted much on her work. Judith Mackrell, WSJ, 17 Dec. 2021 Two sisters, Christine and Léa Papin, who worked as maids, had murdered the mistress of the house and her daughter. Washington Post, 6 Jan. 2022 Fox — a 31-year-old socialite, artist, clothing designer, and former dominatrix and Playboy model — made her acting debut as the mistress of Adam Sandler's sleazy jewel peddler in the 2019 film Uncut Gems. Grayson Quay, The Week, 3 Jan. 2022 The documents contained police interviews with the mistress and daughter of 37-year-old shooting suspect Jamie Jaramillo that connect the details of what led to the disturbance call. Fox News, 9 Dec. 2021 In an interview with Rolling Stone, Farmiga sets the scene of trying out for the role of Valentina La Paz, mistress of wiseguy Ralphie Cifaretto (Joe Pantoliano). Marcus Jones, EW.com, 7 Sep. 2021 And while Ahmed is sleeping with his white mistress, Aneesha is comforting their children about that traumatic nosebleed incident and trying to figure out how her life went so awry. Roxana Hadadi, Vulture, 22 Oct. 2021 Bellina’s struggles to define her life purpose are heartwarming, and her devotion to hiding da Vinci’s portrait of her mistress is affecting. Stefanie Milligan, The Christian Science Monitor, 3 Nov. 2021 But the celebrity romance news cycle is a fickle mistress. Michelle Ruiz, Vogue, 17 Nov. 2021

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for mistress

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

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

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Last Updated

23 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Mistress.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mistress. Accessed 27 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for mistress



English Language Learners Definition of mistress

: a woman who has a servant or slave
: a woman who owns a pet (such as a dog)
: the female head of a household


mis·​tress | \ ˈmi-strəs How to pronounce mistress (audio) \

Kids Definition of mistress

1 : a female teacher
2 : a woman who has control or authority over another person, an animal, or a thing … the old woman had no loyalty toward her mistress— Esther Forbes, Johnny Tremain

More from Merriam-Webster on mistress

Nglish: Translation of mistress for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of mistress for Arabic Speakers


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