[ wahyf ]
/ waɪf /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: wife / wives / wifeless on Thesaurus.com

noun, plural wives [wahyvz]. /waɪvz/.
a married woman, especially when considered in relation to her partner in marriage.
a woman (archaic or dial., except in idioms): old wives' tale.
verb (used with or without object), wifed, wif·ing.
Rare. wive.
We could talk until we're blue in the face about this quiz on words for the color "blue," but we think you should take the quiz and find out if you're a whiz at these colorful terms.
Question 1 of 8
Which of the following words describes “sky blue”?
Meet Grammar CoachWrite or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar helpImprove Your Writing
Meet Grammar CoachImprove Your Writing
Write or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar help

Idioms about wife

    take to wife, to marry (a particular woman): He took an heiress to wife.

Origin of wife

before 900; Middle English, Old English wīf woman; cognate with Dutch wijf,German Weib,Old Norse vīf


wifedom, nounwifeless, adjectivewife·less·ness, noun

Other definitions for wife (2 of 2)


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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What is a basic definition of wife?

A wife is a married woman.

The word wife is often used when a woman’s marital status is important to the current topic. For example, a man might explain to a salesperson that he is  looking for a present for his wife, which is a lot more helpful than saying he is buying a gift for “a woman.”

The plural of wife is wives. A man who is married is called a husband. A woman whose marital partner has died is called a widow.

  • Real-life examples: Queen Isabella I of Castille was the wife of King Ferdinand II of Aragon. King Henry VIII infamously had six wives (but one at a time!). If you are married to a woman, then she is your wife.
  • Used in a sentence: My uncle has never been married and says he has no interest in finding a wife.  

Sometimes, a modifier is used with wife to be more specific about a woman’s marital partner.

  • Used in a sentence: The documentary explored the lives of prison wives.

Some married people prefer gender-neutral terms, such as spouse or partner. The choice is up to the people in the marriage.

Where does wife come from?

The first records of wife come from before the 900s. It comes from the Old English word wīf, meaning “woman.” It is related to the Dutch wijf, the German Weib, and the Old Norse vīf.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to wife?

  • wifedom (noun)
  • wifeless (adjective)
  • wifehood (noun)
  • wifelike (adjective)
  • wifely (adverb)

What are some synonyms for wife?

What are some words that share a root or word element with wife?

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

How is wife used in real life?

Wife is a very common word used to explain a woman’s relationship to her spouse.

Try using wife!

True or False?

The word wife is used to refer to a woman who is not married.

How to use wife in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for wife

/ (waɪf) /

noun plural wives (waɪvz)
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)

Derived forms of wife

Word Origin for wife

Old English wīf; related to Old Norse vīf (perhaps from vīfathr veiled), Old High German wīb (German Weib)
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

Other Idioms and Phrases with wife


see under wives.

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