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husband-in-law (plural husbands-in-law)

  1. A husband in law only, such as one who has abandoned his wife
  2. A husband who provides legally required support, but not love or affection
  3. (colloquial) Another husband of one's wife. Typically used in cases of divorce and subsequent remarriage.
    • 2002, John Hanson Mitchell, The Wildest Place on Earth: Italian Gardens and the Invention of Wilderness, page 38:
      the collection of people who would gather in either of the two houses for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and sometimes again in summer. This collection involved former mothers-in-law, former husbands, ex-wives of former husbands, and doddering uncles from distant marriages, as well as, of course, the various and sundry children and dogs (dogs-in-law as one family member calls them) of the now recombined families. In the process, I believe, we were responsible for the creation of a new American family relative—the wife-in-law, or the husband-in-law.
    • 1908, George Barr McCutcheon, Harrison Fisher, The Man from Brodney's, page 148:
      "Your plan provides Browne with two charming wives and gives me but one. [] "
      "But, my lord," said Saunders, "doesn't the plan give Lady Deppingham two husbands? It's quite a fair division."
      "It would make Lord Deppingham my husband-in-law, I imagine," said Drusilla quaintly. "I've always had a horror of husbands-in-law."
      "And you would be my wife-in-law," supplemented Lady Agnes. "How interesting!"


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