Also found in: Thesaurus, Wikipedia.


(Professions) (in Spain and Portugal, etc) an elderly woman retained by a family to act as governess and chaperon to young girls
[C17: from Spanish dueña, from Latin domina lady, feminine of dominus master]


(duˈɛn ə, dyu-)

n., pl. -nas.
1. (in Spain and Portugal) an older woman serving as escort or chaperon of a young lady.
2. a governess.
[1660–70; < Sp]
du•en′na•ship`, n.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.duenna - a woman chaperon
Portugal, Portuguese Republic - a republic in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula; Portuguese explorers and colonists in the 15th and 16th centuries created a vast overseas empire (including Brazil)
Espana, Kingdom of Spain, Spain - a parliamentary monarchy in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula; a former colonial power
chaperon, chaperone - one who accompanies and supervises a young woman or gatherings of young people
References in classic literature ?
But, as I was saying, Richard, or was about to say, my daughter has been allowed to rust; her aunt was a mere duenna; hence, in parenthesis, Richard, her distrust of me; my nature and that of the duenna are poles asunder - poles
That is true," said Maritornes; "and, faith, I relish hearing these things greatly too, for they are very pretty; especially when they describe some lady or another in the arms of her knight under the orange trees, and the duenna who is keeping watch for them half dead with envy and fright; all this I say is as good as honey.
Here I am, till my duenna finishes her business and fetches me.
No want of understrappers: my sister desires her love, and hopes to be admitted into the company, and will be happy to take the part of any old duenna or tame confidante, that you may not like to do yourselves.
The other, of mature age, seemed to have the former one under her charge, and was cold, dry and yellow -- the true type of a duenna or a devotee.
Accompanying Bira had been his older cousin, Prince Chulachakrabongse, his quieter, more restrained duenna in the curious West.
The libretto was by Carlo Francesco Badini of Turin who openly acknowledged that he had based this on The Duenna by Sheridan, to whom he dedicated it.
The trio of scheming women was completed by the accomplished comic actor-singer of Larisa Diadkova as The Duenna.
Dashed off to hear two acts of Prokofieff's The Duenna (57) at the Riga Opera.
10) Between the Jew Bill and Cumberland's comedy in 1794, there had been a host of rabidly anti-Jewish plays, including Richard Brinsley Sheridan's now forgotten ballad-opera The Duenna.
During the early twenties, he describes the Saturday Evening Post as being "putrid with prosperity like the bulky, diamonded duenna of a bawdy-house" ("Thoughts" 24).
The performances that responded to this event, Richard Brinsley Sheridan's opera The Duenna and his play The School for Scandal, which ruled the British stage from 1777-79, underscore "the critique of British society required for imagining a post-American world" first voiced in the press during the Regatta, when things were falling apart in Britain's war with its American colonies (136).