A debutante (from the French debutante, "female beginner") is a young lady from an aristocratic or upper class family, who has reached the age of maturity, and as a new adult, is introduced to society at a formal "début" presentation. Originally, it meant the young woman was eligible to marry, and part of the purpose was to display her to eligible bachelors and their families with a view to marriage within a select upper class circle. Debutantes may be recommended by a distinguished committee or sponsored by an established member of elite society. In the Southern United States, debutantes are also referred to as Southern belles. The male equivalent of a debutante is a "beau".

Début presentations vary by regional culture and are also frequently referenced as "debutante balls," "cotillion balls" or "coming-out" parties. The male equivalent is often referred to as "beautillion ball". A lone debutante might have her own début, or she might share it with a sister or other close relative.
This was maintained during the civil war on both sides of the conflict. In the BBCWR a group of young ladies reflect this life style.