Prima donna is Italian for first lady. Prima donna has come to mean a temperamental or demanding person, a diva who insists on special treatment.
Traditionally, prima donna refers to the leading female singer in an opera company. The prima donna receives the best roles. The term prima donna began in nineteenth-century Italy to describe the principal soprano of an opera company, these troupe members often had out-sized personalities on and off stage.
Unless referring to an actual opera star, using the title prima donna is an insult reserved for people who have an inflated idea of their talents and worth. Even though a strict translation of prima donna refers to a lady, both males as well as females may be called prima donnas.
Wimbledon 2015: is Nick Kyrgios a petulant prima donna or simply showing his passion? (The Daily Telegraph)
I’ve interviewed enough athletes to know the routine — ask about goals, and even the most primped prima donna knows to say: “Win a championship.” (The Denver Post)
The notoriously demanding prima donna, who has a history of red carpet hissy fits and meet-and-greet meltdowns, hilariously tried to turn her pastry petulance into a public service announcement. (The Panama City News Herald)
Begun with simple singing and movement exercises, the program culminates Sunday with the dramatic abduction and eventual rescue of a prima donna soprano before an audience at The Box Theater in downtown Riverside. (The Press Enterprise)
Similarly, Michelle Walker’s Carlotta, the disgruntled opera prima donna, was 100 per cent believable – no one could dispute she has opera singing skills. (The Southland Times)
“He is a humble person who doesn’t act like a prima donna, and his nature is already proving to be a gelling force in the team” (The Guardian)