Definition of wife in English:

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Pronunciation: /wīf/

noun (plural wives /wīvz/)

1A married woman considered in relation to her spouse.
Example sentences
  • Spare a thought for all those wives, husbands and children who this weekend will be saying their goodbyes.
  • His estranged wife was recently killed in a car crash, leaving him numb and vulnerable.
  • Three years ago he divorced his second wife Anthea, with whom he has two small children.
spouse, partner, life partner, mate, consort, woman, helpmate, helpmeet, bride
informal old lady, wifey, better half, other half, missus, ball and chain, significant other
1.1 [with modifier] The wife of a person with a specified occupation: a faculty wife
More example sentences
  • Of late she seems to be settling in well as a competent full-time royal wife and new mother.
1.2 archaic or dialect A woman, especially an old or uneducated one.


take a woman to wife

archaic Marry a woman.
Example sentences
  • Let us therefore return to our kingdoms and resolve never again to take a woman to wife; and as for me, I will show thee what I will do.
  • Actually, telling the common folk that Sarah was his sister probably would have worked okay because the custom in those days was to ask permission from the father, or the brothers if the father was gone, before a man could take a woman to wife.
  • Abraham knew the Egyptians would not refrain from killing a husband in order to win a beautiful woman, but according to the etiquette of the times they would not take a woman to wife without the consent of her father or her brother (as in the cases of Rebecca, Dinah).



Pronunciation: /ˈwīfˌho͝od/
Example sentences
  • Ideology, promulgated by the learned few, and predominantly male, writers of the period extolled the virtues of wifehood and motherhood for women, but, in most cases, the gap between ideal and reality was wide.
  • The ethos of service and usefulness that permeated the vocational concept of wifehood and motherhood similarly motivated single woman: to be useful in the world, to provide help and guidance to those who need it.
  • The idealization and elevation of marriage and wifehood brought with it an emphasis on pure motives for marrying, resulting, in turn, in the elevation of spinsterhood and a more dignified view of single women.


Example sentences
  • All will honour his enthusiasm, and if he be wifeless and childless, his disregard of the great object of men's work will be blameless.
  • I have been rendered wifeless by the Pandavs and therefore I want Panchali, the wife of the Pandavs.
  • Charlotte enters Maggie's household and comes to the attention of the wifeless Adam Verver, who proposes to her.


Pronunciation: /ˈwīfˌlīk/
Example sentences
  • Perhaps he thinks you use phrases and terms about the children's father that sound too ‘wife-like’, or he is weary of hearing you mention the other parent's name so much, or he perceives a tone in your voice or a look in your eyes.
  • I just realized my comment sounded too ‘wife-like’.


Pronunciation: /ˈwīflēnis/
Example sentences
  • ‘Emmy, I need a ship,’ declared Hector, with a fervour that threatened to swamp her resurgent wifeliness.
  • She is a comic pointilliste, and her precise inflections of wifeliness dot the brain like a quiver of hatpins.
  • How quickly I have reverted to a pre-feminist expectation of wifeliness.


Pronunciation: /ˈwīflē/
Example sentences
  • I never imagined I would find myself in this wifely role, but here I am, with my endless lists and diary and calendar, keeping on top of everyone's activities - Mum to the whole family.
  • No, the words ‘heartless’ and ‘gad-about’ would be getting an airing from the misogynists as they dissected Victoria's desertion of her wifely duties.
  • People come to us because both partners are working extremely hard and no one has time to fulfill that wifely role.


Old English wīf 'woman', of Germanic origin; related to Dutch wijf and German Weib.

  • The original meaning of wife was simply ‘woman’, a sense still used in Scotland and in terms such as fishwife (early 16th century) and midwife. All the world and his wife, meaning ‘everyone’ or ‘a great many people’, is first recorded in Jonathan Swift's Polite Conversation (1738). See also Caesar, woman

Words that rhyme with wife

fife, Fyfe, knife, life, pro-life, rife, still-life, strife

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: wife

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