Definition of Melba in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmɛlbə/

Entry from British & World English dictionary


(in phrase do a Melba) Australian informal
Return from retirement, or make several farewell appearances.
Example sentences
  • Perhaps some of these words and expressions will do a Melba one day.
  • I'm doing a Melba and will be back in the water on Monday.
  • I realised I'd have to make an overt confession and say I was doing a Melba - I'm not going to make another announcement, you can count on that.


1970s: from the name of the soprano Dame Nellie Melba (see Melba, Dame Nellie), who made repeated ‘farewell’ appearances.

  • We have all seen entertainers retire and make a comeback, or do numerous farewell performances. In Australia and New Zealand they would be said to do a Melba. At the beginning of the 20th century Dame Nellie Melba (1861–1931) was one of the most famous opera singers in the world, and she continued to perform long after her official retirement. Melba was not her real name—she was born Helen Porter Mitchell near Melbourne in Australia, and took her stage name from that city. Outside her native country many associate her name with various dishes created in her honour by the French chef Georges-Auguste Escoffier (1846–1935). He is said to have devised the dish of ice cream and peaches with raspberry sauce that he called peach Melba in London around 1892, though the first known record is from 1909; in 1897, when Dame Nellie was ill and took to a plain diet, he apparently recommended very thin crisp toast, promptly dubbed Melba toast or toast Melba.

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