From Middle English housewif, houswyf, huswijf, equivalent to house +‎ wife. Replaced earlier Middle English hussif (Modern English hussy), which is a doublet.


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /ˈhaʊs.waɪf/
  • (file)


housewife (plural housewives or housewifes) (see notes below about plurals)

  1. (plural "housewives") A woman whose main employment is homemaking, maintaining the upkeep of her home and tending to household affairs; often, such a woman whose sole [unpaid] employment is homemaking.
    Synonym: henhussy (archaic)
    Hypernym: homemaker
    Coordinate term: househusband
    • 2000, Uli Kusch, "Mr. Torture", Helloween, The Dark Ride
      Mr Torture sells pain / To the housewives in Spain / He knows just what they crave / Mr Torture
  2. (plural "housewives") The wife of a householder; the mistress of a family; the female head of a household.
  3. (plural "housewifes") A little case or bag for materials used in sewing, and for other articles of female work.
    Synonym: hussy
    • 1852: Tom Taylor and Charles Reade, Masks and Faces Act II
      Woffington's housewife, made by herself, homely to the eye, but holds everything in the world
    • 1997, David L. Phillips, A Soldier's Story, MetroBooks, →ISBN, page 61.
      The "soldier's housewife" was a small sewing kit that was carried to make timely repairs to clothing and equipment.

Derived termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


housewife (third-person singular simple present housewifes, present participle housewifing, simple past and past participle housewifed)

  1. Alternative form of housewive