lady, noun

Origin:
EnglishShow more Special senses of general English.
1. [Influenced by Afrikaans dame a lady; ‘madam, ma’am’, the most courteous Afrikaans form of address to a woman.] Especially in the English of Afrikaans-speakers: ‘madam, ma’am’, a respectful mode of address to a woman.
Note:
Although intended respectfully, the word is sometimes misinterpreted as being impolite (cf. U.S. English ‘lady’).
1956 N. Gordimer in Best of S. Afr. Short Stories (1991) 221‘My God,’ said Mrs Hansen, ‘My God. So she died, eh?’ ‘Yes, lady,’ he held out his hand for her ticket.
1963 J. Packer Home from Sea 171One of our drunks. Drunk and disorderly, lady, truculent with the constable who arrested him.
1971 D.A.C. Maclennan Wake. 31That’s quite all right lady. I jus’ come to visit. Don’t worry about me.
1975 J. McClure Snake (1981) 162‘Do I make myself clear?’ ‘Yes, lady. I’m sorry, hey?’
1982 Informant, Bible SocietyDear Sir/Lady, Two scholars are cycling from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth to raise funds for Bible distribution.
1987 M. Poland Train to Doringbult 100‘What the hell’s going on?’ she demanded. ‘Lady, this is not your business.’
1989 J. Hobbs Thoughts in Makeshift Mortuary 232‘What do you want her for, lady?’ The official voice on the phone sounded deeply suspicious.
2. Special Combination Lady Billie [formed by analogy with Old Bill], a title given to the leader of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Memorable Order of the Tin Hats (see Mothwa). See also Old Bill.
1979 E. Prov. Herald 26 June 12Mrs Ann Lawent, Deputy National Lady Billie.
‘madam, ma’am’, a respectful mode of address to a woman.
, a title given to the leader of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Memorable Order of the Tin Hats (see Mothwa).
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