- a married woman, especially when considered in relation to her partner in marriage.
- a woman (archaic or dial., except in idioms): old wives' tale.
- Rare. wive.
- take to wife, to marry (a particular woman): He took an heiress to wife.
Origin of wife
- a combining form of wife, now unproductive, occurring in compound words that in general designate traditional roles or occupations of women: fishwife; goodwife; housewife; midwife.
Examples from the Web for wife
His wife passed away and they had kids, and he wanted to focus on being a dad so he just stopped to raise his kids.Coffee Talk with Fred Armisen: On ‘Portlandia,’ Meeting Obama, and Taylor Swift’s Greatness
January 7, 2015
The band was still on its way back as De Blasio and his wife departed.Funeral Protest Is Too Much for NYPD Union Boss
January 5, 2015
So when my wife and I moved to Laurel Canyon I spent my first year working night and day on the show.The Story Behind Lee Marvin’s Liberty Valance Smile
January 3, 2015
Through my wife [McCauley is married to singer/songwriter Vanessa Carlton].Deer Tick's John McCauley on Ten Years in Rock and Roll
January 2, 2015
My wife answered and thought it was a friend impersonating the governor.President Cuomo Would’ve Been a Lion
January 2, 2015
Again he recurred to his early years, and talked fondly of his wife and children.Philothea
Lydia Maria Child
Too bad, though—you certainly need a wife to take the conceit out of you.
The girls I know are taught painstakingly how to get a husband, but nothing of how to be a wife.
"I must make you acquainted with my wife and children," he said.
He did not remember who he was, or that he had a wife and child.
- a man's partner in marriage; a married womanRelated adjective: uxorial
- an archaic or dialect word for woman
- take to wife to marry (a woman)
Word Origin and History for wife
Old English wif "woman," from Proto-Germanic *wiban (cf. Old Saxon, Old Frisian wif, Old Norse vif, Danish and Swedish viv, Middle Dutch, Dutch wijf, Old High German wib, German Weib), of uncertain origin. Dutch wijf now means, in slang, "girl, babe," having softened somewhat from earlier sense of "bitch."
Some proposed PIE roots include *weip- "to twist, turn, wrap," perhaps with sense of "veiled person" (see vibrate); or *ghwibh-, a proposed root meaning "shame," also "pudenda," but the only examples of it are wife and Tocharian (a lost IE language of central Asia) kwipe, kip "female pudenda."
The modern sense of "female spouse" began as a specialized sense in Old English; the general sense of "woman" is preserved in midwife, old wives' tale, etc. Middle English sense of "mistress of a household" survives in housewife; and later restricted sense of "tradeswoman of humble rank" in fishwife. Wife-swapping is attested from 1954.
Idioms and Phrases with wife
see under wives.