alewife

1
[eyl-wahyf]

Origin of alewife

1
1625–35, Americanism; earlier allowes, perhaps influenced by alewife2, probably < French alose shad < Gallo-Latin alausa

alewife

2
[eyl-wahyf]
noun, plural ale·wives.
  1. a woman who owns or operates an alehouse.

Origin of alewife

2
Middle English word dating back to 1350–1400; see origin at ale, wife
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Historical Examples of alewife


British Dictionary definitions for alewife

alewife

noun plural -wives
  1. a North American fish, Pomolobus pseudoharengus, similar to the herring Clupea harengus: family Clupeidae (herrings)

Word Origin for alewife

C19: perhaps an alteration (through influence of alewife, that is, a large rotund woman, alluding to the fish's shape) of French alose shad
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

Word Origin and History for alewife
n.

herring-like fish of North America, 1630s, named from the word for female tavern keepers (late 14c.), from ale + wife; the fish so called in reference to its large abdomen.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper