title of respect, 1520s, from Spanish or Portuguese Don, a title of respect prefixed to a man's Christian name, from Latin dominus "lord, master, owner" (from domus "house," from PIE root *dem- "house, household").
It took on a general sense of "person of high importance or leading position," hence the English university sense "fellow of a college, any college authority" (c. 1660), originally student slang. The underworld sense is by 1952, from Italian don. The fem. form is Portuguese Dona, Spanish Doña, Italian Donna.