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wife

[wahyf]
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noun, plural wives [wahyvz] /waɪvz/.
  1. a married woman, especially when considered in relation to her partner in marriage.
  2. a woman (archaic or dial., except in idioms): old wives' tale.
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verb (used with or without object), wifed, wif·ing.
  1. Rare. wive.
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Idioms
  1. take to wife, to marry (a particular woman): He took an heiress to wife.
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Origin of wife

before 900; Middle English, Old English wīf woman; cognate with Dutch wijf, German Weib, Old Norse vīf
Related formswife·dom, nounwife·less, adjectivewife·less·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for wifedom

wife

noun plural wives (waɪvz)
  1. a man's partner in marriage; a married womanRelated adjective: uxorial
  2. an archaic or dialect word for woman
  3. take to wife to marry (a woman)
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Derived Formswifehood, nounwifeless, adjectivewifelike, adjectivewifeliness, nounwifely, adjective

Word Origin

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

Word Origin and History for wifedom

wife

n.

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with wifedom

wife

see under wives.

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