[ spou-zuhl ]
/ ˈspaʊ zəl /
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See synonyms for: spousal / spousals on Thesaurus.com

Often spousals. the ceremony of marriage; nuptials.
nuptial; matrimonial.
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Origin of spousal

1250–1300; Middle English spousaille, aphetic variant of espousailleespousal


spous·al·ly, adverbin·ter·spous·al, adjectivein·ter·spous·al·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does spousal mean?

Spousal means relating to or involving marriage. The word marital can often be used to mean the same thing.

Spousal is an adjective form of spouse—the person who someone is married to (their partner in marriage).

A spouse who’s a man is often called a husband, while a spouse who’s a woman is often called a wife. The word partner is a gender-neutral way to refer to one’s spouse. People most commonly use one of these terms when talking about or introducing their spouse, as opposed to using the word spouse. The word spouse is more commonly used in formal or official contexts, such as on forms that require family relations to be specified.

Spousal is used in terms referring to such relationships or situations involving them, such as spousal benefits and spousal counseling.

Sadly, one of the most common uses of spousal is in the term spousal abuse, which specifically refers to abuse of the person that one is married to. (The broader term domestic abuse typically refers to abuse of someone within one’s household.)

Much less commonly, spousal can be used as a noun, especially in the plural form spousals, meaning a marriage ceremony. The word nuptials means the same thing but is much more common.

Example: Does this insurance plan provide spousal coverage?

Where does spousal come from?

The first records of the word spousal come from the 1200s. It ultimately comes from the Latin terms spōnsus and spōnsa, meaning “betrothed man” and “betrothed woman.” These terms derive from the Latin verb spondēre, “to pledge.”

A spouse is the person who has pledged to wed another person and be united in marriage with that person, usually in some official way. This union is formally called wedlock. Fittingly, wed, wedlock, and wedding are all based on a word that means “pledge.” Like spouse, spousal is most often used in formal or official ways.

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What are some other forms related to spousal?

What are some synonyms for spousal?

What are some words that often get used in discussing spousal?

How is spousal used in real life?

Spousal is typically used in formal or official contexts. Unfortunately, one of its most common uses is in the phrase spousal abuse.


Try using spousal!

Is spousal used correctly in the following sentence?

The spousal relationship should be based on trust and a willingness to sacrifice.

How to use spousal in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for spousal

/ (ˈspaʊzəl) /

(often plural)
  1. the marriage ceremony
  2. a wedding
of or relating to marriage

Derived forms of spousal

spousally, adverb
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