Definition of widow in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈwidō/


1A woman who has lost her spouse by death and has not remarried.
Example sentences
  • On her husband's death, a widow usually foresees a life full of harassment and humiliation.
  • The right of action for wrongful death given by statute for the benefit of a widow for the death of her husband has been held not to be divested by her subsequent marriage.
  • Upon the death of the husband, the widow generally stays on the land, but only if she pays the sub-headman.
1.1 [with modifier] humorous A woman whose spouse is often away participating in a specified sport or activity: a golf widow
More example sentences
  • I sneakily bought some good tickets months ago and they are coming into play to thank her for being such a good rugby widow sport during this world cup.
  • The agony aunt's first quest is to help golf widow Joy to persuade husband Martin to spend more time with her and their three children.
  • Last Monday, I told my girlfriends at work that this whole football widow business was driving me crazy.
2 Printing A last word or short last line of a paragraph falling at the top of a page or column and considered undesirable.
Example sentences
  • So I saved the space by killing all the widow lines; I could cut a word and save a line. The next day I couldn't bear to read my own words.


[with object] (usually as adjective widowed)
Make into a widow or widower: she had to care for her widowed mother
More example sentences
  • At the moment, the group is small and comprises people who are divorced, separated or widowed.
  • Minus One is a social support group for separated, widowed or divorced people.
  • Life Loan is available to married couples, partners and single or widowed people.


Old English widewe, from an Indo-European root meaning 'be empty'; compare with Sanskrit vidh 'be destitute', Latin viduus 'bereft, widowed', and Greek ēitheos 'unmarried man'.

  • Widow is descended from an ancient root meaning ‘to be empty’, which may also the source of divide. A grass widow is now a woman whose husband is away often or for a prolonged period, but originally it was an unmarried woman who had been the mistress of more than one man: the term may have come from the idea of a couple having lain on the grass instead of in bed. Widow's weeds dating from the early 18th century was expressed earlier as mourning weeds: here weeds is in the obsolete general sense ‘garments’ from Old English wǣd(e).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: wid·ow

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