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A gentlewoman (from the Latin gentilis, belonging to a gens, and English 'woman') in the original and strict sense is a woman of good family, analogous to the Latin generosus and generosa. The closely related English word "gentry" derives from the Old French genterise, gentelise, with much of the meaning of the French noblesse and the German Adelheit, but without the strict technical requirements of those traditions, such as quarters of nobility.
By association with gentleman, the word can refer to:
From the time of Queen Mary I and Queen Elizabeth I, the title Gentlewoman of Her Majesty's Bedchamber was borne by ladies serving the Queen of England, later becoming Lady of the Bedchamber.