Handmaid is an old fashioned word for a housekeeper or servant. Wealthy people living in grand houses once employed handmaids to clean for and serve them.

You're most likely to come across the word handmaid in a book these days, since in-house "help" is more likely to be called a "cleaner," "housekeeper," or, rarely, a "maid." Years ago, handmaids were employed to work closely with their employers, sometimes as "ladies-in-waiting," assistants to queens and other royals. The term comes from maid, "young woman," and the "close-at-hand" sense of hand.

Definitions of handmaid

n a personal maid or female attendant

Type of:
amah, housemaid, maid, maidservant
a female domestic

n in a subordinate position

handmaiden, servant
Type of:
subordinateness, subsidiarity
secondary importance

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