English edit

Etymology edit

From Middle English ald wyf, eld wiif, olde wyffe.

Noun edit

old wife (plural old wives)

  1. An old woman, later especially one who tells old wives' tales. [from 9th c.]
  2. Any of various marine fishes [from 16th c.]:
    Alternative form: oldwife
    1. the alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus)
    2. A species of perciform fish endemic to the temperate coastal waters of Australia (Enoplosus armatus)
    3. Balistes vetula (Queen triggerfish)
    4. Certain spot-tail porgies (Diplodus ascensionis, Diplodus helenae)
    5. Spondyliosoma cantharus (black seabream)
    6. Trachinotus goodei (great pompano)
    7. A wrasse
  3. (Canada, US, now rare) The long-tailed duck, Clangula hyemalis. [from 17th c.]
    Synonyms: oldsquaw, quandy
    • 1634, William Wood, “Of the Birds and Fowles both of Land and Water”, in New Englands Prospect. A True, Lively, and Experimentall Description of that Part of America, Commonly Called New England; [], London: [] Tho[mas] Cotes, for Iohn Bellamie, [], →OCLC, 1st part, page 31:
      The Oldvvives, be a foule that never leave tatling day or night, ſomething bigger than a Ducke.
  4. (Scotland) A chimney cap to prevent smoking. [from 19th c.]

Derived terms edit

References edit