Origin of wedlock
Words nearby wedlock
ABOUT THIS WORD
What does wedlock mean?
Wedlock is the state of being married.
The term is rarely used by itself simply to refer to the state of marriage other than in very formal religious contexts.
Instead, wedlock is most commonly used in criticism of the actions of couples who are not married, most especially in the phrase born out of wedlock—meaning born when one’s parents are not legally married.
This phrase and the beliefs and criticisms that go with it are often themselves criticized for stigmatizing children and their parents when those parents are not married or were not married at the time of the birth.
Other instances of the use of the word wedlock also involve criticism of actions taken by partners who are not married, such as living together or engaging in sexual activity out of wedlock.
Where does wedlock come from?
The first records of the word wedlock come from before the 1100s. The suffix -lock is not the same lock that you open with a key or that’s found in words like gridlock or headlock. Instead the word comes from the Old English wedlāc, meaning “a pledging.” This word is based on the Old English wed, which means “pledge” and is, unsurprisingly, related to the word wedding.
Due to religious and societal beliefs that have existed throughout much of history, having children without being married has often been considered immoral—or at least a situation to be avoided. Such beliefs often lead people to criticize those who do so, resulting in the use of stigmatizing terms like born out of wedlock or illegitimate to label such children.
Similar criticisms have traditionally been issued against partners who live together outside of wedlock (sometimes called cohabiting, cohabitating, or even living in sin, all of which have negative connotations) or who engage in sexual activity outside of wedlock. In both of these cases, the phrase outside of marriage is probably more commonly used than outside of wedlock—but it carries the same critical tone.
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How is wedlock used in real life?
Wedlock can be used in a neutral or positive way to refer to the state of being married, but it’s most commonly used in critical comments that refer to not being married.
Does God approve that I am pregnant out of wedlock ? No. Is he still working on me? Yes. Does that mean I’m not allowed to tell y’all how good he is? Absolutely not. He without sin cast the first stone.
— Butterflies Part 2 Out Now (@queennaija) December 10, 2018
15 years ago today I met you, 7 and a half years of wedlock, 3 kids later here we stand still glowing ❤️❤️❤️❤️ @Jennapollard26 . Forever to go #nomorekidsand more happiness love you J. #blessedandthankful❤️ . https://t.co/gizKIw4NCe
— Kieron Pollard (@KieronPollard55) May 19, 2020
Could somebody tell me why we still say that somebody “got pregnant out of wedlock”? Why oh why is it called wedlock only if you got pregnant out of it?
— Beth Moore (@BethMooreLPM) November 5, 2019
How to use wedlock in a sentence
This recognized family rights when paternity is established, whether a child was born in or out of wedlock.In Tussle Over Will, Mistress’s Family Takes a Bite Out of NYU|Anthony Haden-Guest|November 10, 2014|DAILY BEAST
The results are shocking: 96 percent of babies born to African American high school dropouts are born out of wedlock.The Real Enemy of Marital Bliss Are Those Most Opposed to Marriage Equality|Jay Michaelson|October 25, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Mother and baby homes were where young women who had conceived out of wedlock were sent to have their babies.Ireland’s ‘Mother and Baby Home’ Horror Goes Beyond Tuam’s Dead Infants|Patsy McGarry|June 6, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Accepting the conception of a child out of love—and out of wedlock.‘Downton Abbey’ Finale Review: The Depressing Demise of a Once-Great Show|Kevin Fallon|February 24, 2014|DAILY BEAST
And she was one pro-life person who repeatedly opened her home to teenage women who had become pregnant out of wedlock.Remembering Ma Laureys, the Mother of 10 Christie Slandered to Win His First Election|Michael Daly|January 23, 2014|DAILY BEAST
It seems to form a bond of friendship which they regard as sacred as the vows of wedlock.
Honorine de Bauvan lost her child born out of wedlock, and she always mourned it.Repertory Of The Comedie Humaine, Complete, A -- Z|Anatole Cerfberr and Jules Franois Christophe
Take you this man to husband, you who with such calmness sought to drive others into unwilling wedlock.St. Martin's Summer|Rafael Sabatini
When the discovery was made, the boy was born—and born out of lawful wedlock.Tristram of Blent|Anthony Hope
Women, too, whether on the street or in the holy bond of wedlock, were prone to sell their flesh.Revolution and Other Essays|Jack London
British Dictionary definitions for wedlock
Word Origin for wedlock
Other Idioms and Phrases with wedlock
see out of wedlock.