grande dame



From French grande dame.



grande dame (plural grandes dames)

  1. A woman who is socially prominent, respected, and experienced, especially one who is haughty and advanced in age.
    • 1883 Charlotte M. Yonge, Stray Pearls, ch. 17:
      Now the Baronne de Ribaumont Walwyn was a veritable grande dame, and Madame Croquelebois, in spite of her sharp nose, and sharper tongue, was quite cowed by her.
    • 1902, Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton, The Conqueror, ch. 3:
      "Do you no longer want to go to Europe? to court? to be grande dame and converse with princes?"
    • 1966 Aug. 19, "Resorts: Happening at the Hamptons," Time:
      "Beatniks," snorted one grande dame as she pushed her way toward her chauffeur-driven limousine.
    • 1985, Peter Carey, Illywhacker, Faber and Faber 2003, p. 141:
      She has been buying (under my guidance) new clothes and she looks quite the grande dame.
  2. A woman who is accomplished, influential, and a senior figure in a particular field.
    • 1965 Aug. 2, "Milestones," Time:
      Died. Ruth St. Denis, 90, grande dame of modern dance.
    • 2007 July 15, Larry Rohter, "Movies: A Part Made for Her," New York Times (retrieved 29 Aug. 2011):
      As the grande dame of Latin American actresses, Norma Aleandro is accustomed to having choice roles gravitate in her direction.
  3. (figuratively, by extension) A well-known, very highly regarded institution, structure, or large conveyance, such as a hotel or ship.


  • (woman who is socially prominent): doyenne
  • (woman who is influential, knowledgeable, senior in a field): doyenne






grande dame f (plural grandes dames)

  1. great lady, grande dame