formal term of address to a lady, 1590s, see madam, which is an earlier borrowing of the same French phrase. Originally a title of respect for a woman of rank, now given to any married woman. It is more formal or affected than madam. OED recommends madam as an English title, madame in reference to foreign women.
plural of French madame (see madam). Mesdemoiselles is plural of mademoiselle; messieurs of monsieur.
1580s, abbreviation of mistress (q.v.), originally in all uses of that word. Prefixed to the name of a married woman by 1610s. The plural Mmes. is an abbreviation of French mesdames, plural of madame, used in English to serve as the plural of Mrs., which is lacking. Pronunciation "missis" was considered vulgar at least into 18c. (compare missus). The Mrs. "one's wife" is from 1920.
1580s, from French bataillon (16c.), from Italian battaglione "battle squadron," from diminutive of Vulgar Latin *battalia "battle," from Latin bauttere "to beat" (see batter (v.)). Specific sense of "part of a regiment" is from 1708. The oft-repeated quote "God is on the side of the largest battalions" (with many variants) usually is attributed to 17c. French military genius and marshal Turenne:
Madame, lui répondit-il, ne vous y fiez pas: j'ay tôujours vû Dieu do coté des gros Batallions. [E.Boursault, 1702]
1726, from in- (1) "not, opposite of" + describable. Related: Indescribably; indescribability (1797). In same sense, Old English had unasecgendlic. Indescribables for "trousers" (1819) was colloquial in England for a generation or so.
We cannot omit here to state, that, some years since, we recollect a rumour in the gallery [of the House of Commons], that Madame de Staël was sitting, en habit d'homme, in a surtout and military indescribables, listening to the debate, under the protection of Sir J. Macintosh. ["Privileges of Women," in Retrospective Review, London, 1824]
"male dressmaker or fashion designer," 1885, originally as a French word in English, from French couturier, from couture "sewing, dressmaking" (see couture). Couturière "female dressmaker" is attested in English from 1818.
THE couturier—the bearded dressmaker, the masculine artist in silk and satin—is an essentially modern and Parisian phenomenon. It is true the elegant and capricious Madame de Pompadour owed most of her toilets and elegant accoutrements to the genius of Supplis, the famous tailleur pour dames, or ladies' tailor, of the epoch. But Supplis was an exception and he never assumed the name of couturier, the masculine form of couturière, "dress-maker." That appellation was reserved for the great artists of the Second Empire, Worth, Aurelly, Pingat, and their rivals, who utterly revolutionized feminine costume and endeavored to direct it in the paths of art, good taste, and comfort. ["The Parisian Couturier," Lippincott's Magazine, October 1885]
Applied variously over the years, including to the followers of Swedenborg. Taken as the name of a modern philosophical system (sometimes called Esoteric Buddhism), founded in New York 1875 as "Theosophical Society" by Madame Blavatsky and others, which has elements of Hinduism and Buddhism and claims supernatural knowledge of the divinity and his words deeper than that obtained from empiricism. Related: Theosophist.
1851, named for U.S. feminist reformer Amelia Jenks Bloomer (1818-1894), who promoted them. The surname is attested from c. 1200, said to mean "iron-worker," from Old English bloma (see bloom (n.2)). The original Bloomer costume was a short skirt, loose trousers buttoned round the ankle, and a broad-brimmed, low-crowned hat.
The failure of the Bloomer dress seems to have arisen from the mixed character it assumed, and the unpleasant confusion of ideas it occasioned. It partook of the man's the woman's and the child's. A bold assumption of a full male dress, as by Madame Dudevant and Miss Weber, and such as is worn at pleasure by ladies, traveling or on excursions, anywhere on the continent of Europe, would have had a much better chance of tolerance and success. ["The Illustrated Manners Book, A Manual of Good Behavior and Polite Accomplishment," New York, 1855]