The wife of an earl in the British peerage, or of a count in the Continental nobility; also, a lady possessed of the same dignity in her own right. See the Note under Count.
The wife of an earl in England. The Saxon earl who, along with the sheriff, ran the shire in pre Norman England kept his title when the Normans changed the â€˜shiresâ€(tm) to â€˜countiesâ€(tm). His wife, however, became a countess.