DOWAGER (from the Old Fr. douagiere, mod. douairière), strictly, a widow in the enjoyment of dower. "Dowager" is also applied to widows of high rank to distinguish them from the wives of their sons, as queen-dowager, dowager-duchess, etc. The title was first used in England of Catherine of Aragon, widow of Arthur, prince of Wales, who was styled princess dowager till her marriage with Henry VIII. By transference the word is used of an elderly lady.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)