The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







A dowager is a widow who holds a title or property derived from her deceased husband. As an adjective, Dowager usually appears in association with monarchical and aristocratic titles.

In the United Kingdom, the title of "dowager" applies to women who fit one of two qualifications:

  1. widow of a previous holder of a title of peerage
  2. ancestress of the present holder of the title

In loose popular usage, dowager as a stand-alone noun may refer to any elderly woman.

Titles and Styles

Generally speaking, dowager peeresses may use one of three styles:

  1. "Duchess (or Marchioness, Countess, Viscountess, or Baroness, as appropriate) of X"
  2. "Dowager Duchess of X,"
  3. "N, Duchess of X"

where "N" stands for the forename.

As long as the present male title-holder has no wife, a dowager retains the title she used when her late husband was the peer: "Duchess of X". However, the woman who marries the present peer will come to use the title "Duchess of X". Thus, when the present peer marries, the dowager must choose whether she wants to use the form "Dowager Duchess of X" or the form "N, Duchess of X," where N stands for the forename.


See also

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