Etymology
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young (n.)

"young animals collectively, offspring," late 15c., from young (adj.).

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young (adj.)

Old English geong "youthful, young; recent, new, fresh," from Proto-Germanic *junga- (source also of Old Saxon and Old Frisian jung, Old Norse ungr, Middle Dutch jonc, Dutch jong, Old High German and German jung, Gothic juggs), from PIE *yuwn-ko-, suffixed form of root *yeu- "vital force, youthful vigor" (source also of Sanskrit yuvan- "young; young man;" Avestan yuuanem, yunam "youth," yoista- "youngest;" Latin juvenis "young," iunior "younger, more young;" Lithuanian jaunas, Old Church Slavonic junu, Russian junyj "young," Old Irish oac, Welsh ieuanc "young").

From c. 1830-1850, Young France, Young Italy, etc., were loosely applied to "republican agitators" in various monarchies; also, especially in Young England, Young America, used generally for "typical young person of the nation." For Young Turk, see Turk.

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lady (n.)

c. 1200, lafdi, lavede, from Old English hlæfdige (Northumbrian hlafdia, Mercian hlafdie), "mistress of a household, wife of a lord," apparently literally "one who kneads bread," from hlaf "bread" (see loaf (n.)) + -dige "maid," which is related to dæge "maker of dough" (which is the first element in dairy; see dey (n.1)). Also compare lord (n.)). Century Dictionary finds this etymology "improbable," and OED rates it "not very plausible with regard to sense," but no one seems to have a better explanation.

The medial -f- disappeared 14c. The word is not found outside English except where borrowed from it. Sense of "woman of superior position in society" is c. 1200; that of "woman whose manners and sensibilities befit her for high rank in society" is from 1861 (ladylike suggesting this sense is attested from 1580s, and ladily from c. 1400). Meaning "woman chosen as an object of chivalrous love" is from early 14c. Used commonly as an address to any woman since 1890s.

Applied since Old English to the Holy Virgin, hence many extended usages in plant names, place names, etc., from genitive singular hlæfdigan, which in Middle English merged with the nominative, so that lady- often represents (Our) Lady's, as in ladybug. Lady Day (late 13c.) was the festival of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary (March 25). Ladies' man first recorded 1784; lady-killer "man supposed to be dangerously fascinating to women" is from 1811. Lady of pleasure recorded from 1640s. Lady's slipper as a type of orchid is from 1590s.

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lady-love (n.)

"woman who is the object of one's affections," 1733; see lady + love (n.).

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fraulein (n.)

"young lady," 1680s, from German Fräulein "unmarried woman" (Middle High German vrouwelin), diminutive of Frau "lady" (see frau).

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demoiselle (n.)

"young lady, girl," 1510s, from French demoiselle (Old French damoisele, dameisele, dameiselle); an unmodified form of damsel (q.v.).

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damsel (n.)

early 13c., damisele, "young, unmarried woman," especially a maiden of gentle birth, also "maid in waiting, handmaiden assisting a lady," from Anglo-French damaisele and Old French dameisele "woman of noble birth" (Modern French demoiselle "young lady"), modified (by association with dame) from earlier donsele, from Gallo-Roman *domnicella, diminutive of Latin domina "lady" (see dame). Archaic until revived by romantic poets, along with 16c.-17c. variant form damozel (which was used by Spenser). Damsel-fly for "dragon-fly" is by 1815, from a sense in French demoiselle.

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senorita (n.)

in a Spanish context, "a young Spanish lady;" as a title, "Miss;" 1823, from Spanish señorita, Spanish title corresponding to English "Miss," diminutive of señora (see senora). The Portuguese equivalent is senhorita.

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bird (n.2)

"maiden, young girl; woman of noble birth, damsel, lady, lady in waiting," also "the Virgin Mary," c. 1200, perhaps a variant of birth (n.) "birth, lineage," confused with burd and bride (q.q.v.), but felt by later writers as a figurative use of bird (n.1), which originally meant "young bird" and sometimes in Middle English was extended to the young of other animals and humans.

In later Middle English and after, bird (n.2) largely was confined to alliterative poetry and to alliterative phrases. The modern slang meaning "young woman" is from 1915, and probably arose independently of the older word (compare slang use of chick).

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burd (n.)

poetic word for "woman, lady" in old ballads; later "young lady, maiden;" c. 1200, perhaps from Old English byrde "wealthy, well-born, of good birth" (compare Old English gebyrd "birth, descent, race; offspring; nature; fate;" see birth (n.)) Or a metathesis of bryd "bride" (see bride). The masculine equivalent was berne.

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