FIRST LADY is an unofficial title used for the wife or hostess of a
non-monarchical head of state or chief executive. The term is also
used to describe a woman seen to be at the top of her profession or
art. Collectively, the President of the
United States and his spouse
are known as the First Couple and, if they have children, they are
usually referred to as the
First Family .
The term is sometimes used, primarily in the U.S., to refer to the
spouse of other non-monarchical heads of state , even though they do
not have that style in their own country. Some other countries have a
title, formal or informal, that is or can be translated as first lady.
The title is not normally used for the wife of a head of government
who is not also head of state.
The term in the
United States is also used to refer to wives of
governors and, less formally, to wives of college and university
presidents. It has even been used in reference to female spouses of
men who were chairmen of major corporations. While there has never
been a male spouse of a U.S. President, "First Gentleman " is used in
United States for the husband of a state governor. FIRST GENTLEMAN
is the male equivalent of the title in countries where the head of
state's spouse has been a man, such as the
* 1 Origin of the term
* 2 History of use in the
* 3 Use in other countries
* 3.1 Armenia
* 3.2 Azerbaijan
* 3.3 Brazil
* 3.4 Bulgaria
* 3.5 Cambodia
* 3.6 Colombia
* 3.7 Croatia
* 3.8 Czech Republic
* 3.10 Indonesia
Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
* 3.12 Malawi
* 3.13 Maldives
* 3.14 New Zealand
* 3.15 Nigeria
* 3.16 Peru
* 3.18 Poland
* 3.19 South Korea
* 3.20 Taiwan
* 3.21 Trinidad and Tobago
* 3.22 United Arab Emirates
* 4 Non-spousal uses
* 5 Apolitical uses
* 6 See also
* 7 References
* 8 Further reading
* 9 External links
ORIGIN OF THE TERM
First Lady of the United States
First Lady seems to have originated in the United
States , where one of the earliest uses in print, in 1838, was in
Martha Washington . Other sources indicate that, in
Zachary Taylor called
Dolley Madison "first lady" at
her state funeral , while reciting a eulogy written by himself; but no
copy of that eulogy has been found.
HISTORY OF USE IN THE UNITED STATES
First Lady of the United States
In the early days of the
United States , there was no generally
accepted title for the wife of the president. Many early first ladies
expressed their own preference for how they were addressed, including
the use of such titles as Lady. One of the earliest uses of the term
"first lady" was applied to
Martha Washington in a profile by Mrs. C.
H. Sigourney in 1838: Mrs. Sigourney, discussing how Martha Washington
had not changed, even after her husband George became president, wrote
that "The first lady of the nation still preserved the habits of early
life. Indulging in no indolence, she left the pillow at dawn, and
after breakfast, retired to her chamber for an hour for the study of
the scriptures and devotion". However, the term "first lady" would
not come into common use until the late 1800s.
Harriet Lane , niece of bachelor President
James Buchanan , was the
first woman to be called first lady while actually serving in that
position. The phrase appeared in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Monthly in
1860, when he wrote, "The Lady of the White House, and by courtesy,
First Lady of the Land." Once
Harriet Lane was called first lady,
the term was applied retrospectively to her predecessors.
The title first gained nationwide recognition in 1877, when Mary C.
Ames wrote an article in the
New York City
New York City newspaper The Independent
describing the inauguration of President
Rutherford B. Hayes . She
used the term to describe his wife,
Lucy Webb Hayes .
While historically the term has generally been used to refer to the
wife of a president, there were occasions when another woman, such as
the President's daughter, has filled the duties of
First Lady as
hostess in the
White House , if the President's wife was unwilling,
unable, or if the President was a widower or bachelor .
First Lady of the United States is
Melania Trump , wife
Donald Trump .
The entire family of the head of state may be known familiarly as the
First Family ". The spouse of the second-in-command (such as a Vice
President ) may be known as the "
Second Lady ", or Vice-First Lady.
Less frequently, the family would be known as the "Second Family". The
spouse of the governor of a U.S. state is commonly referred to as the
First Lady or First Gentleman of that state, for example "First Lady
Tonette Marie Walker of
Wisconsin ". The practice is less common for
spouses of mayors but is nevertheless used for some, particularly in
large cities; example: "
First Lady Amy Rule of
Chicago " or "First
Lady Kris Barrett of
Milwaukee ." Mike Gregoire, husband of former
Washington state governor Chris Gregoire, preferred to use his name
instead of a common noun, calling himself "First Mike".
USE IN OTHER COUNTRIES
In U.S. media the term
First Lady is often applied to the wife of a
head of state in another country, irrespective of whether a different
appellation (or none) is used in that country. For example, in 1902,
the U.S. publication Munsey\'s Magazine said of the wife of Canadian
Governor General the Earl of Minto : "As the first lady in the land,
she has done much to weld together the heterogeneous components of a
colonial society which includes peoples of different races and of
antagonistic religions." The term was also used by Munsey's to refer
to the wife of Mexico's leader, President Porfirio Díaz: In an 1896
piece about "The Daughters of Mexico", author Jeannie Marshall said of
Carmen Romero Rubio de Díaz: "She is still a young woman, though she
has filled the position of 'first lady of the land' for many years,
with marked success." The U.S. Spanish-language newspaper La Prensa
also called her "primera dama" when writing about her activities.
The wife of the current president of Armenia is referred to as
"Հայաստանի Առաջին տիկին", which translates as
(among other things) "first lady of Armenia".
The wife of the current
President of Azerbaijan uses the term
"Birinci xanım ".
The wife of the
President of Brazil
President of Brazil is called "Primeira-Dama".
The wife of the
President of Bulgaria is called "Първа
The term "Lok Chumteav" is used.
The term "Primera Dama" is used.
The terms Supruga Predsjednika Republike (Wife of the President of
the Republic) or Suprug Predsjednice Republike (Husband of the
President of the Republic) are most commonly used in Croatia, while
the terms Prva dama (First Lady) and Prvi gospodin (First gentleman)
are rarely used, except by foreign sources. The current husband of the
President of Croatia is
Jakov Kitarović .
The wife of the Prime Minister has occasionally, in exceptionally
rare cases, also been referred to as the
First Lady of Croatia,
however as the spouses of Prime Ministers have often maintained a low
profile and have almost never been public figures, the title Supruga
Predsjednika Vlade (Wife of the Prime Minister) has been used in cases
when such a reference is needed. The current wife of the Prime
Ana Maslać Plenković .
The term První dáma is used for wife of the President of the Czech
Current first lady is
Ivana Zemanová .
Spouse of the President of India
The term "First Lady" is less frequently used in
India . The term
might be used at times to refer to the wife of the President of India
in newspapers; however, the more widespread term in general use is
"Wife of The President" or more informally as the President's
wife/spouse/husband. The term "First Lady" is not used to refer to the
wife of the Prime Minister.
The term "Ibu Negara" (Lady/Mother of the State) is used for wife of
President of Indonesia .
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland , the term "First Lady" (Irish : an Chéad
Bhean) is not used in official contexts, but is often used in the
media to refer to the wife of the President and, less frequently,
to refer to the wife of the
Taoiseach (prime minister). During the
first half of
Bertie Ahern 's term as Taoiseach, he was separated from
his wife Miriam (née Kelly) and the role of
First Lady was filled by
his then domestic partner,
Celia Larkin .
The term "First Gentleman" has also been used to describe the husband
of a female President.
During the administration of President
Kamuzu Banda , Malawi had an
"Official Hostess" who served in the same capacity as "First Lady"
because the President was unmarried. Banda was never married and
Cecilia Kadzamira served in this capacity for the nation.
First Lady of Maldives is used by the office of the
president, governmental offices, and by visiting dignitaries.
The term "first lady" is not officially used in New Zealand, but is
sometimes used in the press and colloquially to refer to the wife of
the Prime Minister .
The term first lady has been used intermittently for the wife of the
President of Nigeria. The spouse of the President has no official
title, but receives the same style as the president, Excellency. A
Shehu Shagari was a polygamist, and none of his wives
were referred to as the first lady.
The wife of the current
President of Peru uses the term Primera Dama.
The consort of the President of the
Philippines bears the
gender-neutral title of First Spouse (Filipino : Unang Kabiyák), and
among other duties, is host(ess) of
Malacañan Palace . The title is
genderless as many Philippine languages lack grammatical gender , and
because there have been presidential consorts of both sexes.
When the official consort is female, she is known as "First Lady"
(Unang Ginang); the title has also been applied to an immediate female
relative serving in this capacity for a widowed President. There has
only been one First Gentleman (Unang Ginoó) in history: José Miguel
Arroyo , the husband of
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo , the 14th President .
The term Pierwsza Dama is used by the wife of the current President
of Poland . The title of Pani Prezydentowa (the Presidential Lady) is
also commonly, though informally, used.
The wife of the president is called "Yoeong-boo-in"
When the wife of the president is incapacitated, the role of First
lady fell to the oldest daughter of the president during Park
Chung-hee\'s era. Park Chung-hee\'s wife,
Yuk Young-soo , was
assassinated on August 15th 1974, and his daughter, Park Geun-hye
assumed the First Lady.
The term "first lady" is used by the wife of the President of the
Republic of China
Republic of China .
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
The wife of the current president uses the term "first lady".
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
First Lady of Dubai
The term "First Lady" (Arabic : سيدة الأولى في
دبي) is proclaimed upon the wife of the Ruler (Emir) and
officially becoming consort to the Ruler.
First Lady of Ukraine is the unofficial title given by the society to
the wife of the President of
Ukraine . The post is highly ceremonial
and rarely plays a role in social activism.
In some situations, the title is bestowed upon a non-spouse. This
includes terms like "First Family", "First Daughter", and "First Son".
In the past, occasionally another woman, such as the President's
daughter, has filled the duties of
First Lady as hostess in the White
House , if the President's wife was unwilling, unable, or if the
President was a widower or bachelor.
Harriet Lane , niece of bachelor
James Buchanan was the first non-spouse to be called First
South Korean President
Park Geun-hye has been referred to as First
Lady to former President
Park Chung-hee , who is her father. The title
was bestowed upon her after her mother's assassination.
The title was also officially bestowed on
Victoria Quirino-Delgado ,
the daughter of widower
Elpidio Quirino (1948–53), sixth President
of the Philippines. Victoria's mother, Alicia Quirino née Syquía,
had been killed by occupying Japanese troops towards the end of the
Second World War
Second World War . While President Corazón Aquino (1986–92) was
also widowed, the title was not given to her older children who would
assist her in official duties. These included her son (and later
Benigno Aquino III
Benigno Aquino III , who was a sort of de facto First
Gentleman; his four sisters, as under their mother's presidency, now
unofficially share the duties of the First Spouse. The current
Rodrigo Duterte 's marriage was annulled, and his
common-law wife is not qualified to take the title as they are not
married yet. Instead, he named his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara
Duterte , as First Lady.
In 1994, Peruvian president
Alberto Fujimori officially named his
daughter Keiko "First Lady", after he had separated from his wife
Susana Higuchi .
After taking office as
Puerto Rico 's first female governor, Governor
Sila Maria Calderón appointed her two daughters, Sila María
González Calderón and
María Elena González Calderón , to serve as
Evo Morales , the president of
Bolivia , is single, so his sister,
Esther Morales Ayma, fulfills the role of First Lady.
Following the leadership spill which installed
Julia Gillard as the
Prime Minister of Australia on 24 June 2010, some news
media referred to her de facto partner ,
Tim Mathieson , as the "First
It has become commonplace in the
United States for the title of
"First Lady" to be bestowed on women, as a term of endearment, who
have proven themselves to be of exceptional talent or unique notoriety
in non-political areas. The phrase is often, but not always, used when
the person in question is either the wife or "female equivalent" of a
well-known man (or men) in a similar field. For example, the term has
been applied in the entertainment field to denote the "
First Lady of
Lucille Ball ), the "
First Lady of Song" (Ella Fitzgerald
), the "
First Lady of Country Music" (
Tammy Wynette , although Loretta
Lynn was also known by the title), the "
First Lady of
Star Trek "
Majel Barrett ), the "
First Lady of American Soul "
Aretha Franklin ), the "
First Lady of the
Grand Ole Opry " (Loretta
Lynn ), and the "
First Lady of the American Stage" (
Helen Hayes ).
The term "first lady" is also used to denote a woman who occupies the
foremost social position within a particular locality, in this sense
being particularly popular in
Africa , where the pre-eminent female
noble in some chieftaincy hierarchies, such as those of the Yoruba
people , is often referred to by the title.
In recent years, the term has also been used to refer to the wife of
the pastor of a church, especially in predominantly black churches.
List of First Spouses
List of first gentlemen in the United States
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* ^ "About Mike". Governor Chris Gregoire's official state website.
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* ^ "Cecilia Kadzamira-Malawi\'s First Lady".
* ^ The Office of the President, statement by The President of the
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* ^ "President Yameen and
First Lady meet Sri Lankan President and
First Lady - Maldives High Commission - London - Maldives in the UK
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* Berkin, Berkin, ed., "America's First Ladies," History Now 35
(Spring 2013) online; popular essays by scholars
* Burns, Lisa M. (2008). First Ladies and the Fourth Estate: Press
Framing of Presidential Wives. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University
Press. ISBN 978-0-87580-391-3
* Caroli, Betty Boyd (2010). First ladies : from Martha Washington
to Michelle Obama. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN
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the Press in Progressive Era” (PhD dissertation, Arizona State
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* Lugo-Lugo, Carmen R. and Mary K. Bloodsworth-Lugo. "Bare Biceps
and American (In) Security: Post-9/11 Constructions of Safe(ty),
Threat, and the First Black First Lady," Women's Studies Quarterly
(2011) 39#1 pp 200–217, on media images of Michelle Obama
* Watson, Robert P. "Toward the Study of the First Lady: The State
of Scholarship," Presidential Studies Quarterly (2003) 33#2 pp
* Current First Ladies (biographies and photo profiles)
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