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maiden


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Archaic term for a young unmarried girl. Malcolm IV (1141–65), king of Scotland, was known as the Maiden; the Annals of Ulster praise him as a devoted Christian, but he was also an active and warlike king.

The maiden is also the name given to a form of the guillotine used in 16th and 17th century Scotland for beheading criminals of rank. According to tradition, it was introduced by James Douglas, Earl of Morton (d. 1581), Regent of Scotland, who was himself beheaded with it.

the answer to a maiden's prayer an eligible bachelor.

Maiden Castle a prehistoric site in Dorset, consisting of an enormous Iron Age earthwork surrounded by a series of ramparts; excavations in 1934–7 show that settlement there dated back to the Neolithic period.

maiden speech the first speech delivered in the House of Commons or House of Lords by a Member, an expression dating from the early 18th century.

See also Rhine maidens, swan maiden.


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