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n. pl. ci·cis·be·i (-bā′ē′)
The male lover or companion of a married woman, especially in 18th-century Europe.

[Italian, of unknown origin.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


n, pl -bei (-ˈbɛːi)
(Historical Terms) the escort or lover of a married woman, esp in 18th-century Italy
[C18: Italian, of uncertain origin]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
References in periodicals archive ?
His study of the Countess of Albany's connections with the court of George III is of particular interest; even more interesting are the pages dedicated to the Countess's journey through the English countryside in July and August with her cicisbeo (as Walpole called him).
Saixon, however, speaks when necessary, if no more than necessary; he might justly be described as was Antonio Conti, another member of the Smith circle; Conti, said Pietro Gherardi, "doveva piacere assai a gl'inglesi perche di poche ma sensate parole."(12) Saixon's wife, a flighty contrast with her husband, is devoted to fashions, including display of an ancient French cicisbeo dangling nearby at her convenience when she needs an escort or confidant.
Chapter 8 ("Morals and Malcontents") brings together such typically settecento phenomena as the libretto dedication to the ladies, the cicisbeo (male escort), the castrato, and the vogue for bourgeois sensibility.
He played at being a cicisbeo, or official escort for a married lady (who might or might not be also his lover).