|Agnes Melanie Dickson as a debutante, 1890|
But in its first appearance, debutante actually meant an actress making her stage debut. This word arrived in English round about 1801, coming (no surprise) from the French. It wasn't applied to society ladies making their debut until 1817. So for me, that means no using it until my Civil War books.
Which I'm now going to hasten back to. ;-) If you haven't seen the cover of said book, Circle of Spies, yet on Facebook, be sure to come back on Wednesday for a peek, and some fun behind-the-scenes I've learned about it since describing it to y'all last week!