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




housewife (plural housewives) (housewifes for the sense 3)

  1. A woman, often unemployed, who spends most of her time maintaining the upkeep of her home and tending to household affairs.
    • 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. The wife of a householder; the mistress of a family; the female head of a household.
  3. A little case or bag for materials used in sewing, and for other articles of female work; – called also 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.



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

  1. Alternative form of housewive