• It is actually an English translation of the Italian "Prima Donna", which is the title of the leading female role in an opera. It has come to mean the foremost woman in any field of the arts or the wife of a country's president. Incidentally, if the president is female, the spouse is often referred to as "First Gentleman". In the United States, it is reported to first have been used in 1849 in reference to Dolley Madison, wife to President James Madison. It became popular when the media used it while reporting on the inauguration of Rutherford B. Hayes in 1877.

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