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From Old High German wīb, related to Old Saxon wīf (whence Low German Wief), Middle Dutch wijf (whence Dutch wijf), Old English wīf (whence English wife), Old Norse víf (whence Common Scandinavian viv). Ultimately from Proto-Germanic *wībą.



Weib n (genitive Weibs or Weibes, plural Weiber, diminutive Weibchen n or Weiblein n)

  1. (now often pejorative) woman
  2. (archaic) woman, wife
    • So sprach er [...]: „Weib, meine letzte Stunde ist da; alle Schätze, so ich allein besaß, sind dein und deiner Tochter.“ - Emanuel Schikaneder, Die Zauberflöte (libretto), act II, scene 8.
      So he said [...]: "Wife, my last hour is here; all the treasures that I possessed of myself are yours and your daughter's."

Usage notes[edit]

  • Weib usually cannot be a neutral term for “woman” in contemporary German (for that see Frau). Nonetheless, it is still rather a current word and may be more or less pejorative depending on context. It is most often heard among men, notably in the plural, in which case it has macho ring to it, without being particularly abusive: Du weißt ja, wie die Weiber sind... − “Well, you know what women are like...”
  • In older German (well into the 19th century), Weib was a normal word for a woman, usually one of the “common people”, or someone's wife. This more neutral sense is still retained in many derived terms, particularly weiblich (female).


Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Weib in Duden online

Pennsylvania German[edit]


Compare German Weib, Dutch wijf, English wife.


Weib n (plural Weiwer)

  1. wife
  2. woman