The second part is usually taken to be from the root dig- "to knead", seen also in dough ; the sense development from bread-kneader, or bread-maker, or bread-shaper, to the ordinary meaning, though not clearly to be traced historically, may be illustrated by that of "lord".
The primary meaning of "mistress of a household" is now mostly obsolete, save for the term landlady and in set phrases such as "the lady of the house.
The term is also used in titles such as First Lady and Lady Mayoressthe wives of elected or appointed officials. The singular vocative use was once common but has become mostly confined to poetry. The usual English term for politely addressing a woman is Madam or Ma'am.
Usage[ edit ] In British English"lady" is often, but not always, simply a courteous synonym for "woman". Public toilets are often distinguished by signs showing simply "Ladies" or "Gentlemen".
The American journalist William Allen White noted one of the difficulties in his autobiography. He relates that a woman who had paid a fine for prostitution came to his newspaper to protest, not against the fact that her conviction had been reported, but that the newspaper had referred to her as a "woman" rather than a "lady".
After the incident, White assured his readers, his papers referred to human females as "women", with the exception of police court characters, who were all "ladies". White's anecdote touches on a phenomenon that others have remarked on as well. In the late 19th and early twentieth century, in a difference reflected in the British historian Nancy Mitford 's essay " U vs.
These social class issues, while no longer as prominent in this century, have imbued some formal uses of "lady" with euphemism e. Commenting on the word inC. Lewis wrote that "the guard at Holloway said it was a ladies' prison!
However, some women, since the rise of second wave feminismhave objected to the term used in contexts such as the last example, arguing that the term sounds patronising and outdated when used in this way; a man in the same context would not necessarily be referred to as a "gentleman".
One feminist writerRobin Lakoffin her book Language and Woman's Placenotably raised the issue of the ways in which "lady" is not used as the counterpart of "gentleman". It is suggested by academic Elizabeth Reid Boyd that feminist usage of the word "lady" has been reclaimed in the 21st century.
During the Middle Agesprincesses or daughters of the blood royal were usually known by their first names with "Lady" prefixed, e.
Lady Elizabeth; since Old English and Middle English did not have a female equivalent to princes or earls or other royals or nobles. Aside from the queen, women of royal and noble status simply carried the title of "Lady".
As a title of nobility, the uses of "lady" in Britain are parallel to those of "lord". It is thus a less formal alternative to the full title giving the specific rank, of marchionesscountessviscountess or baronesswhether as the title of the husband's rank by right or courtesy, or as the lady's title in her own right.
A peeress's title is used with the definite article: Lord Morris's wife is "the Lady Morris". A widow's title derived from her husband becomes the dowagere. The Dowager Lady Smith. The title "Lady" is also used for a woman who is the wife of a Scottish feudal baron or lairdthe title "Lady" preceding the name of the barony or lairdship.
The daughters of dukes, marquesses and earls are by courtesy "ladies"; here, that title is prefixed to the given and family name of the lady, e. Lady Jane Smith, and this is preserved if the lady marries a commonere. Mr John and Lady Jane Smith.
When a woman divorces a knight and he marries again, the new wife will be Lady Smith while the ex-wife becomes Jane, Lady Smith. Female members of the Order of the Garter and Order of the Thistle also receive the prefix of "Lady"; here that title is prefixed to the given and family name of the lady, e.
The word is also used as a title of the Wicca goddess, The Lady. Margaret Thatcher was informally referred to in the same way by many of her political colleagues when Prime Minister of Great Britain. Her husband was later created a baronet, thus making her "Lady Thatcher" as of right.
After she retired, she was given a barony as Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, and was thereafter known as "The Lady Thatcher". Elsewhere in the Commonwealththe word is used in a similar fashion to aristocratic usage in Britain.
In Nigeria the Yoruba aristocrats Kofoworola Ademola and Oyinkansola Abayomi made use of the word due to their being the wives of British knights. In the BDSM community, many female dominants choose the title Lady as an alternative to the more commonly used Mistress.The curtain opened Monday on the video for "Applause," Lady Gaga's first single in almost two years.
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