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I am looking for a word or expression to describe those ladies, usually high society ladies, whose main aim in life is to find a good match for marriage and whose main activity is organising lunches or dinners for relatives and friends often to raise money for some non-profit organisation?

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What do you call those ladies whose main goal in life is to marry a poor, uneducated man with no skills or future, work themselves to the bone, live in great poverty, with never enough left over to help their children or others? I think some of this is culturally dependent. If a woman was raised in the upper class, and saw her mother live that way, then I would call her normal. –  medica May 16 at 22:31
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@medica Not everyone has the same priorities and lifestyle. That does not mean that women with different priorities want to marry poor and uneducated men. –  poepje May 17 at 1:00
    
Is this to find a good match for themselves or for the younger marriageable generation? –  Mitch May 17 at 1:40
    
People who go to college with the intention of marrying is called going for your M-R-S degree, but that's still pejorative. –  JFA May 17 at 3:14

4 Answers 4

up vote 13 down vote accepted

I've always referred to them as "ladies who lunch." According to Wikipedia the phrase means:

"Ladies who lunch is a phrase often used to describe well-off, well-dressed women who meet for social luncheons, usually during the working week. Typically, the women involved are married and non-working. Normally the lunch is in a high-class restaurant, but could also take place in a department store during a shopping trip. Sometimes the lunch takes place under the pretext of raising money for charity."

"The phrase "ladies who lunch" was introduced in the January 19, 1970 issue of New York magazine by the writer Merle Rubine,1 "Anyone with a fair figure, ready cash, fashion savvy and a safecracker's nerve can buy the best that Fifth Avenue has to offer on Seventh Avenue at half the price. The girls at Condé Nast and Harper's Bazaar have known this for years. Likewise the ladies who lunch at Restaurant X, although they'd rather be banished from the banquette than admit they got their Beenes and Blasses on a bargain basis."

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I'd say “Ladies Who Lunch” are a more selfish subset of "Socialite" with a smaller circle and more of a focus on shopping and dining than on meeting and networking people. (No grand dinners/dances. Less help to charity and community.) –  Brock Adams May 18 at 9:14

Socialites: someone who participates in social activities and spends a significant amount of time entertaining and being entertained at fashionable events attended by others of similar standing.

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Socialites is what my hometown newspaper calls them. Generally they're married to men whose fathers or grandfathers have their names on important buildings in town. –  shoover May 16 at 23:50

For the first part of your question, consider debutantes.

debutante, (informal) deb: a young upperclass woman who has begun going to social parties where she will meet and be seen by other people from the upper class.

For the second part, I suggest clubwomen and mondaines.

clubwoman: a woman belonging to a club or active in a club or other social, community affairs.

mondaine: a woman who is belonging and well known in fashionable society.

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I like mondaine -I had only heard of 'demi-mondaine' (a mistress) but a debutante is a girl 'coming out' and they are as young as 16! Not many would be fundraising, holding lunches, or looking for a husband. –  Third News May 17 at 0:08
    
@ThirdNews That's why I purposely pointed out "for the first of your question, I would refer to those ladies as debs." –  Elian May 17 at 0:11
    
@ThirdNews Some debs are much older than 16 years old. ;-) –  Elian May 17 at 0:15
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@ThirdNews - re: 16 year old not looking for a husband: depends on a time period you're discussing. See Jane Austen –  DVK May 18 at 11:23

The snobbish woman. I suppose the use the snobbish works here.

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