noun, plural fish·wives.

a woman who sells fish.
a coarse-mannered, vulgar-tongued woman.

Origin of fishwife

First recorded in 1375–1425, fishwife is from the late Middle English word fisshwyf. See fish, wife Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for fishwife

Historical Examples of fishwife

  • A longshoreman wouldn't have called a fishwife what I called you, you blessed child.

    In a Little Town

    Rupert Hughes

  • “But sure, they are our fellow-creatures, brother Shane,” exclaimed the fishwife.

    The Heir of Kilfinnan

    W.H.G. Kingston

  • Patrick was summoned, and with his father and the fishwife, the boat was launched.

    The Heir of Kilfinnan

    W.H.G. Kingston

  • The boy was placed at the helm, and the fishwife and her brother took the oars.

    The Heir of Kilfinnan

    W.H.G. Kingston

  • In another Moment, except Help come, the Fishwife will be no more.

    A Tramp Abroad, Complete

    Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

British Dictionary definitions for fishwife


noun plural -wives

a woman who sells fish
a coarse scolding woman
Derived Formsfishwifely, adjective
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 fishwife

1520s, from fish (n.) + wife in the "woman" sense.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper