General English


  • noun a woman. A fairly dated Americanism adopted into British working-class usage in the 1950s and again in the 1970s, since which time it may also be used by women of men. The word has condescending or proprietorial overtones when used by teenagers.

Origin & History of “doll”

Doll comes from the name Dorothy: the changing of r to l in personal names is a common English phenomenon of long standing, from Shakespeare’s prince Hal (for Harry) to the currently familiar Del and Tel (for Derek and Terry). The word was originally applied to a man’s mistress (much like moll, which came from Mary), but in the 18th century it came to be applied to a ‘toy baby’. The pet form dolly dates from the 17th century.