Definition of mistress in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmɪstrəs/


1A woman in a position of authority or control: she is always mistress of the situation, coolly self-possessed
More example sentences
  • At the end, the Chinese mistress of ceremonies slipped up by saying ‘goodbye’ in Japanese.
  • Emancipation changed the nature of plantation mistresses' work but not the plantation's schedule.
  • Once she recognizes the historical constitution of the plantation mistress, Peterkin elects to reproduce it through her own activities.
1.1 [with modifier] British A female schoolteacher who teaches a particular subject: a Geography mistress
More example sentences
  • Despite the frightful sound of it, this acronym does not in fact indicate some child in callipers, nor does it reference what used to be whispered about the preferred proclivities of my biology mistress at school.
  • And of all the worst teachers, we had to be found by our discipline mistress, the strictest teacher in our whole school.
  • It was initiated, in part by Marta, Tomas's mistress and the local schoolteacher.
1.2A woman who is skilled in a particular subject or activity: a mistress of the sound bite, she is famed for the acidity of her tongue
More example sentences
  • Such a warrior is invariably a veteran, and a mistress of the art of war.
  • If I hadn't become a successful actor I'd have been a wardrobe mistress, without a doubt.
  • I am an amateur wardrobe mistress who has been given items of fur over the years.
1.3The female owner of a dog, cat, or other domesticated animal: the cat rubbed itself against its mistress’s legs
More example sentences
  • The orange striped black cat purred and stalked towards the pool table, curling through her mistress' legs.
1.4 archaic A female head of a household: he asked for the mistress of the house
More example sentences
  • The manner of the mistress of the house showed that she entirely agreed with him.
  • She was simply to be the mother of his children and mistress of his household.
  • And as servants they presumably fell under the protection of the master or mistress of the household.
1.5(Especially formerly) a female employer of domestic staff: Mary, go and fetch your mistress some cold chicken
More example sentences
  • Servants observed their mistresses behaving exactly as domestics were trained not to act.
  • Leanne was rather taken aback by her mistress's comment, but nodded.
  • Although mistresses sometimes taught their female slaves specific skills, slave women themselves normally transmitted those skills from one generation to the next.
2A woman (other than the man’s wife) having a sexual relationship with a married man: Elsie knew her husband had a mistress tucked away somewhere
More example sentences
  • He had six sons and two daughters by various wives, concubines and mistresses.
  • They then abandoned their mistresses and married girls from their own class, who were substantially younger and expected to be virgins.
  • Clothing may be given only to sisters, mistresses, and wives.
lover, girlfriend, paramour, kept woman, live-in lover;
courtesan, concubine, inamorata, hetaera, sultana
informal fancy woman, bit on the side, gun moll, (little) bit of fluff
British informal girlf
dated lady-love
archaic doxy, leman
2.1 archaic or literary A woman loved and courted by a man.
3 (Mistress) archaic or dialect Used as a title prefixed to the name of a married woman; Mrs.
Example sentences
  • Among the many characters taking part were Mistress Crabby and Master Mandrake, who stopped at the fair on their way to Bolton Abbey.


Middle English: from Old French maistresse, from maistre 'master'.

  • miss from Old English:

    To miss, meaning ‘to fail to hit’, goes back to Old English. On the surface of it the proverb a miss is as good as a mile is puzzling. The original longer form, from the early 17th century, is clearer: an inch in a miss is as good as an ell (an ell is an old measure of distance, see bow). As a title for a young girl or an unmarried woman miss is a shortening of mistress (Middle English), which itself is from the same Old French root as master ( see magistrate).

Words that rhyme with mistress


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: mis|tress

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