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Borrowed from French grisette, from gris (grey) +‎ -ette, named after the color of the fabric associated with low value or bad quality.



grisette (plural grisettes)

  1. A French girl or young married woman of the lower class; especially, a young working-class woman of perceived easy morals.
    • 1842, Edgar Allan Poe, ‘The Mystery of Marie Rogêt’:
      The anticipations of the shopkeeper were realized, and his rooms soon became notorious through the charms of the sprightly grisette.
    • 1983, Lawrence Durrell, Sebastian, Faber & Faber 2004 (Avignon Quintet), p. 1015:
      he enjoyed the immense luxury not only of lovemaking but also of sleeping and drowsing beside this gentle and composed and somewhat melancholy woman, who was not a fille de joie in the professional sense but more like a grisette.