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doyenne (doi-EN) noun

A woman who is the eldest or senior member of a group or profession.

[From Late Latin decanus (chief of ten), via Old French deien and Middle French doyenne. Her male counterpart is a doyen.]

Another word derived from decanus is dean, which originally referred to a chief of ten men, then leader of ten monks and, finally, to the administrative head of a cathedral or college. A few other non-obvious ten-based words are decussate, intersected or crossed to form an X; dicker, probably from Latin decuria, parcel of ten, with reference to the bundle of ten animal hides Caesar's legions used as a unit of trade; decimate; decibel; and the names of currencies used in various countries, including the qindarka (Albania), stotinka (Bulgaria), and dinar (various Eastern European and Mid-Eastern countries).

"The music of Girija Devi, the doyenne of the Banaras gharana, irradiates soul." Pia Ganguly; A Voice of the Soul; India Currents (San Jose, California); Mar 31, 1994.

"The Philadelphia Flower Show will host the international debut of the bud known as geranium phaeum `Samobar,' which has come to be viewed as a symbol of courage and perseverance since being discovered by British plant doyenne and gardening author Elizabeth Strangman." Noni Bookbinder; U.S. Flower Show Puts Yugoslav Geranium in Spotlight; The Toronto Star (Canada); Mar 5, 2000.

This week's theme: words based on numbers by guest wordsmith Stewart Edelstein.


There is no remedy so easy as books, which if they do not give cheerfulness, at least restore quiet to the most troubled mind. -Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, author (1689-1762)

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