"aged lady," 1570s; previous "grandmother" (mid-15c.), from dame (q.v.) inside sense of "mother" + bel-, Middle English prefix revealing relationship (such as belfader, belsire "grandfather"), from Old French bel, belle "beautiful, reasonable, fine" (see belle). This "direct commitment" feeling of bel is certainly not present in French, where in fact the prefix can be used to create terms for in-laws.
an ugly evil-looking old woman
- a female of advanced level age
- Alt. of Beldame
(n.) Alt. of Beldame