Printable Version
Pronunciation: wid-o-wêr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A husband whose wife has died and who has not remarried.

Notes: This word is based on the verbal use of the word, meaning "to make or become a person whose spouse has died", as 'a widowed mother' or 'to widow someone'. The state of being a widow may be referred to as widowhood.

In Play: Today's word has remained simple: a man whose wife has died: "The Brady Bunch was a long-running TV series about a widow with three daughters, who married a widower with three sons." It may, however, be used very loosely: "When William Arami's wife left him for the postman, William moved to another town and told everyone there he was a widower."

Word History: In Old English today's Good Word was wuduwe, from Proto-Germanic widuwo, the source also of Dutch weduwe (or weeuw) and German Witwe. These words go back to a PIE adjective widhewo, which also produced Sanskrit vidhuh "lonely, solitary" and vidhava "widow", Latin vidua, Russian vdova, Old Irish fedb, Welsh guedeu, and Persian beva—all meaning "widow". Latin viduus "bereft, void" comes from the same ultimate source, from the PIE root weidh- "to separate". This word is the origin of the second element in Latin di-videre "to divide", which English borrowed pretty much as it, modified only by removing the infinitive suffix. (Let's all thank Jackie Strauss, a long-time contributor, for sharing today's Good Word with us.)

Dr. Goodword,

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