See more synonyms for widow on Thesaurus.com
  1. a woman who has lost her spouse by death and has not remarried.
  2. Cards. an additional hand or part of a hand, as one dealt to the table.
  3. Printing.
    1. a short last line of a paragraph, especially one less than half of the full measure or one consisting of only a single word.
    2. the last line of a paragraph when it is carried over to the top of the following page away from the rest of the paragraph.Compare orphan(def 4).
  4. a woman often left alone because her husband devotes his free time to a hobby or sport (used in combination).Compare golf widow.
verb (used with object), wid·owed, wid·ow·ing.
  1. to make (someone) a widow: She was widowed by the war.
  2. to deprive of anything cherished or needed: A surprise attack widowed the army of its supplies.
  3. Obsolete.
    1. to endow with a widow's right.
    2. to survive as the widow of.

Origin of widow

before 900; (noun) Middle English wid(e)we, Old English widuwe, wydewe; cognate with German Witwe, Gothic widuwo, Latin vidua (feminine of viduus bereaved), Sanskrit vidhavā widow; (v.) Middle English, derivative of the noun
Related formswid·ow·ly, adjectiveun·wid·owed, adjective
Can be confusedwidow widower
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for widow

dowager, relict

Examples from the Web for widow

Contemporary Examples of widow

Historical Examples of widow

  • The rest of the estate went to the testator's widow for life, and then to charity.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • I am in the habit of boarding at a quiet house kept by a widow.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • "I don't believe we shall quarrel on that point," said the widow, smiling.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Since 1830 the widow again supplicated the Tribune des Chambres.

  • She was a widow, and had loved her husband, and her sky was still tinged with grey.


    William J. Locke

British Dictionary definitions for widow


  1. a woman who has survived her husband, esp one who has not remarried
  2. (usually with a modifier) informal a woman whose husband frequently leaves her alone while he indulges in a sport, etca golf widow
  3. printing a short line at the end of a paragraph, esp one that occurs as the top line of a page or columnCompare orphan (def. 3)
  4. (in some card games) an additional hand or set of cards exposed on the table
verb (tr; usually passive)
  1. to cause to become a widow or a widower
  2. to deprive of something valued or desirable
Derived Formswidowhood, noun

Word Origin for widow

Old English widuwe; related to German Witwe, Latin vidua (feminine of viduus deprived), Sanskrit vidhavā
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 widow

Old English widewe, widuwe, from Proto-Germanic *widewo (cf. Old Saxon widowa, Old Frisian widwe, Middle Dutch, Dutch weduwe, Dutch weeuw, Old High German wituwa, German Witwe, Gothic widuwo), from PIE adj. *widhewo (cf. Sanskrit vidhuh "lonely, solitary," vidhava "widow;" Avestan vithava, Latin vidua, Old Church Slavonic vidova, Russian vdova, Old Irish fedb, Welsh guedeu "widow;" Persian beva, Greek eitheos "unmarried man;" Latin viduus "bereft, void"), from root *weidh- "to separate" (cf. second element in Latin di-videre "to divide;" see with).

As a prefix to a name, attested from 1570s. Meaning "short line of type" (especially at the top of a column) is 1904 print shop slang. Widow's mite is from Mark xii:43. Widow's peak is from the belief that hair growing to a point on the forehead is an omen of early widowhood, suggestive of the "peak" of a widow's hood. Widow maker "anything lethally dangerous" first recorded 1945, originally among loggers, in reference to dead trees, etc. The widow bird (1747) so-called in reference to the long black tail feathers of the males, suggestive of widows' veils.


c.1300; see widow (n.). Related: Widowed; widowing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with widow


see grass widow.

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