"female ballet dancer," 1792, from Italian ballerina, literally "dancing girl," fem. of ballerino "dancer," from ballo "a dance" (see ball (n.2)). The Italian plural form ballerine sometimes also was used in English.
also primadonna, 1782, "principal female singer in an opera," from Italian prima donna "first lady," from Latin prima, fem. of primus "first" (see prime (adj.)) + domina "lady" (see dame). Extended meaning "temperamental person" is attested by 1834.
The erroneous form premadonna (or pre-madonna) is attested from at least 1950s and increasingly after 1990s. Not to be confused with the adjective pre-Madonna (by 1991), in reference to popular music before the rise to stardom of Madonna (Madonna Louise Ciccone), c. 1985.
"one who communicates with another by letters," 1620s, from correspondent (adj.). The newspaper sense "one who sends regular communications in the form of letters from a distant location" is from 1711.
THE life of a newspaper correspondent, as may naturally be supposed, is one of alternate cloud and sunshine—one day basking in an Andalusian balcony, playing a rubber at the club on the off-nights of the Opera, being very musical when the handsome Prima Donna sings, and very light fantastic toeish when the lively Prima Ballerina dances; another day roughing it over the Balkan, amid sleet and snow, or starving at the tail of an ill-conditioned army, and receiving bullets instead of billets-doux. [New Monthly Magazine, vol. xci, 1852, p.284]
"distinguished woman singer, prima donna," 1864, from Italian diva "goddess, fine lady," from Latin diva "goddess," fem. of divus "a god, divine (one)," related to deus "god, deity" (from PIE root *dyeu- "to shine," in derivatives "sky, heaven, god").
fem. form of the French definite article, used in English in certain phrases and sometimes added ironically to a woman's name with a suggestion of "prima donna" (OED examples begin 1860s). See le.
intransitive verb, c. 1600, used by Shakespeare (only in imperative, aroint thee! "begone!"), obsolete and of obscure origin. "[T]he subject of numerous conjectures, none of which can be said to have even a prima facie probability." [OED]
"earliest canonical hour of the day" (6 a.m.), from Old English prim and Old French prime and directly from Medieval Latin prima "the first service," from Latin prima hora "the first hour" (of the Roman day), from Latin primus "first, the first, first part" (see prime (adj.)). (In classical Latin, the noun uses of the adjective meant "first part, beginning; leading place.")
By extension, "the first division of the day" 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. (early 13c.). The sense of "beginning of a period or course of events" is from late 14c. From the notion of "the period or condition of greatest vigor in life" (by 1530s) comes the specific sense "springtime of human life" (often meaning ages roughly 21 to 28) is from 1590s. Also from 1590s as "that which is best in quality, highest or most perfect state of anything." As "a prime number," by 1530s.