[ noun spous, spouz; verb spouz, spous ]
/ noun spaʊs, spaʊz; verb spaʊz, spaʊs /
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either member of a married pair in relation to the other; one's husband or wife.
verb (used with object), spoused, spous·ing.
Obsolete. to join, give, or take in marriage.
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Origin of spouse

1150–1200; (noun) Middle English <Old French spous (masculine), spouse (feminine) (aphetic for espous, espouse) <Latin spōnsus,spōnsa literally, pledged (man, woman) (noun uses of past participle of spondēre to pledge), equivalent to spond- verb stem + -tus, -ta past participle suffix; (v.) Middle English spousen<Old French esp(o)user;cf. espouse


spousehood, nounspouseless, adjectiveun·spoused, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does spouse mean?

Someone’s spouse is the person who they’re 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.

An adjective form of spouse is spousal, meaning relating to or involving marriage, as in Does this insurance plan provide spousal coverage?

Example: If you and your spouse file your taxes jointly, you may be eligible for certain rebates.

Where does spouse come from?

The first records of the word spouse come from the 1100s. It 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.”

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What are some other forms related to spouse?

  • spousal (adjective)
  • spousehood (noun)

What are some synonyms for spouse?

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

How is spouse used in real life?

Spouse is perhaps most commonly used in formal or official contexts as a way of referring to a marriage partner in a gender-neutral way.


Try using spouse!

Is spouse used correctly in the following sentence?

The event is open to employees and their spouses.

How to use spouse in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for spouse


noun (spaʊs, spaʊz)
a person's partner in marriageRelated adjective: spousal
verb (spaʊz, spaʊs)
(tr) obsolete to marry

Word Origin for spouse

C12: from Old French spus (masculine), spuse (feminine), from Latin sponsus, sponsa betrothed man or woman, from spondēre to promise solemnly
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