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Etymology edit

From Middle English wyfly, wifly, from Old English wīflīc (womanly, wifely), from Proto-Germanic *wībalīkaz (wifely), equivalent to wife +‎ -ly. Cognate with Scots wifely (womanly, wifely), Dutch wijflijk, wijfelijk, German weiblich (feminine, female).

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Adjective edit

wifely (comparative wifelier, superlative wifeliest)

  1. Of, befitting, pertaining to, or characteristic of a wife.
    • 1869, Louisa May Alcott, Little Women[1], Part 2, Chapter 38:
      Being a domestic man, John decidedly missed the wifely attentions he had been accustomed to receive, but as he adored his babies, he cheerfully relinquished his comfort for a time, supposing with masculine ignorance that peace would soon be restored.
    • 1886 October – 1887 January, H[enry] Rider Haggard, She: A History of Adventure, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., published 1887, →OCLC:
      'Behold!' and she took his hand and placed it upon her shapely head, and then bent herself slowly down till one knee for an instant touched the ground - 'Behold! in token of submission do I bow me to my lord! Behold!' and she kissed him on the lips, 'in token of my wifely love do I kiss my lord.'
    • 1944, Emily Carr, “Unmarried”, in The House of All Sorts[2]:
      A woman who does not nose into the domestic arrangements of the place she is going to occupy gives the first hint, for a woman indifferent to the heating, furnishing, plumbing, cooking utensils of her home is not wifely.
    • 1960, P[elham] G[renville] Wodehouse, chapter XVII, in Jeeves in the Offing, London: Herbert Jenkins, →OCLC:
      I endeavoured to soothe. “You can't blame yourself.” “Yes, I can.” “It isn't your fault.” “I invited Wilbert Cream here.” “Merely from a wifely desire to do [your husband] a bit of good.”

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