[ hous-wahyf or, usually, huhz-if for 2 ]
/ ˈhaʊsˌwaɪf or, usually, ˈhʌz ɪf for 2 /

noun, plural house·wives [hous-wahyvz] /ˈhaʊsˌwaɪvz/.

Sometimes Offensive. a married woman who manages her own household, especially as her principal occupation.
British. a sewing box; a small case or box for needles, thread, etc.

verb (used with or without object), house·wifed, house·wif·ing.

Archaic. to manage with efficiency and economy, as a household.


Origin of housewife

First recorded in 1175–1225, housewife is from the Middle English word hus(e)wif. See house, wife
Can be confusedhomemaker housewife (see usage note at the current entry)

Usage note

Most people, married or unmarried, find the term housewife perfectly acceptable. But it is sometimes perceived as insulting, perhaps because it implies a lowly status (“She’s just a housewife”) or because it defines an occupation in terms of a woman's relation to a man. Homemaker is a fairly common substitute. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for housewife

British Dictionary definitions for housewife


/ (ˈhaʊsˌwaɪf) /

noun plural -wives

a woman, typically a married woman, who keeps house, usually without having paid employment
Also called: hussy, huswife (ˈhʌzɪf) mainly British a small sewing kit issued to soldiers
Derived Formshousewifery (ˈhaʊsˌwɪfərɪ, -ˌwɪfrɪ), noun
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 housewife



early 13c., husewif, "woman, usually married, in charge of a family or household" (cf. husebonde; see husband), from huse "house" (see house (n.)) + wif "woman" (see wife). Also see hussy. Related: Housewifely.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper