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grass widow

noun
  1. a woman who is separated, divorced, or lives apart from her husband.
  2. a woman whose husband is away from home frequently or for a long time, as on business or to pursue a sport or hobby.
  3. Archaic.
    1. a discarded mistress.
    2. a woman who has borne an illegitimate child.
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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 formsgrass·wid·ow·hood, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for grass widow

Historical Examples of grass widow

  • My Lyddy does not care about being a grass-widow, gentlemen.

    The Silent House

    Fergus Hume

  • Far be it from me to assert that every Hill grass-widow forgets her absent husband.

  • Samuel could not imagine his grass-widow, Mrs. De Ferriac, causing any very righteous blows on her own account.

    Flappers and Philosophers

    F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • But she did not fancy Simla in the season as a grass-widow, and had had quite enough of being alone.

    Forty-one years in India

    Frederick Sleigh Roberts

  • May I be forgiven for saying so, but in Lublin, in the Jewish quarter, there isn't a house without a grass-widow!

    Stories and Pictures

    Isaac Loeb Peretz


British Dictionary definitions for grass widow

grass widow

noun
  1. a woman divorced, separated, or living away from her spouse
  2. a woman whose spouse is regularly away for short periods
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Word Origin for grass widow

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

Word Origin and History for grass widow

n.

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]
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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.