Henry Preston writes:
Please, please, help nip this malapropism in the bud: “Pre-Madonna.” I’m not kidding, I’ve seen this twice in the past few weeks on comment boards.
prima donna [prē’mə dŏn’ə] (“pree muh don uh”) is an Italian term translated literally as “first lady.” In the music world, a prima donna is the best and most celebrated female singer in an opera company.
Maria Callas swept into New York. She arrived, as is proper for prima donnas, in triumph.
[Carmen] Melis had been a soprano prima donna at La Scala in Milan and had sung with Caruso and Titta Ruffo.
Often referred to as the greatest Italian prima donna of the last half century, Tebaldi made her debut as Elena in Boito’s Mefistofele in 1944.
Because some prime donne (plural of prime donna) felt that their talent and popularity deserved special treatment, the term came to mean “self-centered, arrogant, uncooperative person.” In this sense it is used to describe gifted or otherwise significant people who know their worth and want everyone else to kowtow to them because of it.
The Senate, meanwhile, is an institution that, by nature, furthers individualistic prima-donna-ism on both sides of the aisle.
This is namely for executives: how do you deal with prima donna employees? What is the best approach?
Steele’s A Prima Donna But We Aren’t Ready To Kick Him Off Stage
One use of “pre-Madonna” is as a play on words in connection with the pop singer Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone. When it comes to out-and-out ignorance of the term, the greatest supply of examples is to be found on semi-literate blogs and comment boards, and in sports writing.
you both sound like pree-madonna little girls? arguing over a game, im not trying to get involved in ur war, but how about growing up?
im a young egyption princess or milk maid im the greatest pree madonna in the land,
I am sick in tired reality show celebs acting like pree-Madonna.
Ankela is a little pre-madonna. What an attitude problem. The worst thing of it is that he actually believes that he is far superior to his peers.
My trainer calls me a preemadonna cause i like to look good lol.
Jay cutler is a primadonna (Not like Alex Rodriguez [was] a pree madonna)
Lebron “Premadonna” James will never win a championship!!
It’s amusing that a term meaning “best female singer” has come to be applied to burly athletes.
The Italian term for “best male singer” is primo uomo [prē’mō ‘wɔːmo].
Bottom line: Unless the context has something to do with the pop music world before singer Ciccone came along, the expression is prima donna.
Browse all articles on the Misused Words category or check the recommended content for you below:
Improve your English in 5 minutes a day! Subscribe to our Writing Tips and Exercises via Email
- You will improve your English in only 5 minutes per day, guaranteed!
- Subscribers get access to our archives with 800+ interactive exercises!
- You'll also get three bonus ebooks completely free!