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From Middle English wif, wiif, wyf, from Old English wīf (woman, female, lady, wife), from Proto-Germanic *wībą (woman, wife), possibly from Proto-Indo-European *gʰwíh₂bʰ- (shame, pudenda) (compare Tocharian A/B kip/kwīpe (shame, genitals, female pudenda)).[1][2] Cognate with Scots wife (wife), West Frisian wiif (wife, woman), Saterland Frisian Wieuw (woman, lady, female), North Frisian wüf (wife, woman), Dutch wijf (woman, female), Low German Wief (woman, female), German Weib (woman, wife, female), Danish viv (woman), Norwegian viv (wife, woman, girl), Swedish viv (woman), Faroese vív (wife, woman), Icelandic víf (woman).


  • IPA(key): /waɪf/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪf


wife (plural wives)

  1. A married woman, especially in relation to her spouse.
    • The Fisherman and His Wife
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 10, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      It was a joy to snatch some brief respite, and find himself in the rectory drawing–room. Listening here was as pleasant as talking; just to watch was pleasant. The young priests who lived here wore cassocks and birettas; their faces were fine and mild, yet really strong, like the rector's face; and in their intercourse with him and his wife they seemed to be brothers.
    • 1952, P. G. Wodehouse, Big Business, in 'A Few Quick Ones', Everyman, London: 2009, p 127-8.
      All through Reginald's deeply moving performance she had sat breathless, her mind in a whirl and her soul stirred to her very depths. With each low note that he pulled up from the soles of his shoes she could feel the old affection and esteem surging back into her with a whoosh, and long before he had taken his sixth bow she knew ... that it would be madness to try to seek happiness elsewhere, particularly as the wife of a man with large ears and no chin, who looked as if he were about to start in the two-thirty race at Kempton Park.
  2. The female of a pair of mated animals.
    A new wife for the gander is introduced into the pen.
  3. (Scotland) Synonym of woman.[3]

Usage notesEdit

Although mostly used only humorously, wife can be used with the to indicate one's own wife, as in "I'd like to go, but the wife wants me home".




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.

See alsoEdit

See alsoEdit


  • The New Geordie Dictionary, Frank Graham, 1987, →ISBN
  1. ^ Adams, Douglas Q. (1999) A dictionary of Tocharian B (Leiden Studies in Indo-European; 10)‎[1], Amsterdam, Atlanta: Rodopi, page 238
  2. ^ Klaus Totila Schmit and Klaus Strunk, “Toch. B kwī̆pe ‘Schaum, Schande’, A kip ‘Schaum’ und germ. *wīƀa ‘Weib’”, Indogermanica Europaea: Festschrift für Wolfgang Meid (Graz: Institut für Sprachwissenschaft der Universität Graz, 1989), pages 251-284
  3. ^ wife in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911


Middle EnglishEdit



  1. Alternative form of wif



From Middle English wif (woman, wife), from Old English wīf (woman).


wife (plural wifes)

  1. woman
  2. wife

Derived termsEdit