Definition: Wife

From New World Encyclopedia


From Middle English wyf, wif, from Old English wīf (woman, wife), from Proto-West Germanic *wīb, from Proto-Germanic *wībą (woman, wife).

Germanic cognates include Scots wife (wife), West Frisian wiif (wife, woman), Saterland Frisian Wieuw (woman, lady, female), North Frisian wüf (wife, woman), Dutch wijf (woman, female), Low German Wief (woman, female), German Weib (woman, wife, female), Danish viv (wife, woman), Norwegian viv (wife, woman, girl), Swedish viv (woman), Faroese vív (wife, woman), Icelandic víf (woman).


wife (plural wives)

  1. A married woman, especially in relation to her spouse.
    My wife and I sing at least one song on the days we are together.
  2. The female of a pair of mated animals.
    A new wife for the gander is introduced into the pen.

Usage notes

Although mostly used only humorously, wife can be used with the to indicate one's own wife, as in "I'd like to go, but the wife wants me home."

Derived terms

  • alewife
  • country wife
  • ex-wife
  • fishwife
  • housewife
  • midwife
  • wifehood
  • wifeless
  • wifelike
  • wifely


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