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”)). 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”).
wife (plural wives)
- 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.
- The female of a pair of mated animals.
A new wife for the gander is introduced into the pen.
- (Scotland) Synonym of .
Although mostly used only humorously, wife can be used with the to indicate one's own wife. For instance, "I'd like to go, but the wife wants me home." More commonly, "my wife".
- aad wife
- (From woman) alewife
- blue star wife
- Caesar's wife
- (partner) co-wife, cowife
- country wife
- devil's beating his wife
- (partner) ex-wife, ex wife
- (woman) fishwife noun
- gold star wife
- (woman) goodwife
- (partner) housewife
- husband and wife
- (partner) huswife
- (partner) man and wife
- (woman) midwife
- (woman) old wife/old-wife/oldwife
- oyster wife
- (woman) pudding-wife
- take a wife
- take to wife
- the world and his wife
- (partner) trophy wife
- (partner) wifebeater, wife-beater, wife beater noun
- wife-beating question
- wife carrying
- (woman/partner) wifehood noun
- (partner) wifeless adj
- (woman) wifely adj
- wife's best friend
- wife up
- (partner) wifey noun
- work wife
- 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.
- ^ Adams, Douglas Q. (1999) A dictionary of Tocharian B (Leiden Studies in Indo-European; 10), Amsterdam, Atlanta: Rodopi, page 238
- ^ 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
- ^ wife in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
wife (plural wifes)
- auld wife (“old woman; gossip; rotating chimney-cowl”)
- fishwife (“fishwife, derogatory for a woman of coarse behaviour, temperament and vocabulary”)
- guidwife (“wife, the mistress of a house, a landlady of an inn”)
- henwife (“a woman in charge of hens”)
- housewifeskip (“housewifery”)