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grass widow

a woman who is separated, divorced, or lives apart from her husband.
a woman whose husband is away from home frequently or for a long time, as on business or to pursue a sport or hobby.
  1. a discarded mistress.
  2. a woman who has borne an illegitimate child.
Origin of grass widow
1520-30; the first element perhaps orig. alluding to a bed of grass, hay, or the like; compare Dutch grasweduwe, German Strohwittwe literally, straw-widow
Related forms
grasswidowhood, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for grass widow
Historical Examples
  • Maybe we can get that grass widow to come and keep house for us.

    Chip, of the Flying U B. M. Bower
  • I fear, if she is alive, that his wife in Goa is a “grass widow” to this day.

  • A green rose and a grass widow and a breeze with a green breath.

    The Servant Problem Robert F. Young
  • So the grass widow is back in Rome, and Peppi, you say, is cocking his eye at her?

    Polly the Pagan Isabel Anderson
  • Minnie was married at thirteen; in less than a year she was a grass widow.

    The Woman Who Toils Mrs. John Van Vorst and Marie Van Vorst
  • She would be a grass widow, a subject for all the vulgar jest and loathsome wit of the community.

    The Wind Before the Dawn Dell H. Munger
  • Said Jenny, "I was sold at this settlement sale, and bought in by the 'grass widow' for four hundred dollars."

    The Underground Railroad William Still
  • One day a new gyrl come for to run a loom and they yells out at her, 'Is you-all a grass widow?

    The Woman Who Toils Mrs. John Van Vorst and Marie Van Vorst
  • It was very kind of him, of course, but I wish he would let me alone, and send his old flowers to the grass widow.

    Polly the Pagan Isabel Anderson
  • In weeding, the beer gardener should be careful to distinguish between true widow's weeds and grass widow's weeds.

British Dictionary definitions for grass widow

grass widow

a woman divorced, separated, or living away from her spouse
a woman whose spouse is regularly away for short periods
Word Origin
C16, meaning a discarded mistress: perhaps an allusion to a grass bed as representing an illicit relationship; compare bastard; C19 in the modern sense
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for grass widow

1520s, originally "discarded mistress" (cf. German Strohwitwe, literally "straw-widow"), probably in reference to casual bedding. Sense of "married woman whose husband is absent" is from 1846.

[G]rasse wydowes ... be yet as seuerall as a barbours chayre and neuer take but one at onys. [More, 1528]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for grass widow

grass widow

noun phrase

A woman who is alone because of divorce, separation, rejection, etc

[1839+; because her husband is still above the grass rather than under it]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with grass widow

grass widow

A woman who is separated from her husband, either by divorce or temporary absence. For example, She's a grass widow these days, with Herb traveling to golf tournaments all over the country. The expression dates from the 16th century, when it referred to the mother of an illegitimate child, grass presumably alluding to the open-air setting of the child's conception.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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