• synonyms


[koo-vahd; French koo-vad]
  1. a practice among some peoples, as the Basques of Spain, in which a man, immediately preceding the birth of his child, takes to his bed in an enactment of the birth experience and subjects himself to various taboos usually associated with pregnancy.
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Origin of couvade

1860–65; < French (now obsolete), literally, a hatching, sitting on eggs, equivalent to couv(er) to hatch (< Latin cubāre to lie down) + -ade -ade1; cf. covey
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for couvade

Historical Examples

  • I refer to the custom of so-called father-confinement or 'couvade.'

    Elements of Folk Psychology

    Wilhelm Wundt

  • Couvade, the, among the Indians of South America, 152 et seq.

  • Either origin of the Couvade is consistent with early beliefs and customs.

  • It is curious that in India itself so few actual instances of the Couvade have been discovered.

  • Those who would know more may consult an Encyclopaedia, under the heading ‘Couvade.’

    The Woodlands Orchids

    Frederick Boyle

British Dictionary definitions for couvade


  1. anthropol a custom in certain cultures of treating the husband of a woman giving birth as if he were bearing the child
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Word Origin

C19: from French, from couver to hatch, from Latin cubāre to lie down
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

couvade in Medicine


  1. A practice in certain non-Western cultures in which the husband of a woman in labor takes to his bed as though he were bearing the child.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.