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See also: house-wife



Alternative forms




From Middle English houswyf, housewif, huswijf, equivalent to house +‎ wife; a doublet of hussy, which it was long-distinguished with and displaced due to gradual negative connotation (see Online Etymology Dictionary entry). Cognate with German Hausweib.


  • IPA(key): /ˈhaʊs.waɪf/
  • Audio (US):(file)
  • (obsolete, dialectal, poetic) IPA(key): /ˈhʌzwaɪf/, /ˈhʌz(w)ɪf/



housewife (plural housewives or housewifes) (see notes below about plurals)

  1. (plural "housewives") A woman whose main employment is homemaking, maintaining the upkeep of her home and tending to household affairs; often, such a woman whose sole [unpaid] employment is homemaking.
    Synonym: (archaic) henhussy
    Hypernym: homemaker
    Coordinate term: househusband
    • 2000, Uli Kusch, "Mr. Torture", Helloween, The Dark Ride
      Mr Torture sells pain / To the housewives in Spain / He knows just what they crave / Mr Torture
  2. (plural "housewives") The wife of a householder; the mistress of a family; the female head of a household.
  3. (plural "housewifes") A little case or bag for materials used in sewing, and for other articles of female work.
    Synonym: hussy
    • 1828, JT Smith, Nollekens and His Times, Century Hutchinson, published 1986, page 246:
      It was a housewife, containing needles, a bodkin, and thread; ‘and, do you know,’ added he, ‘it was the most useful thing she could have given me, for it lasted all the time I was at Rome to mend my clothes with [] .’
    • 1852, Tom Taylor, Charles Reade, Masks and Faces, act II:
      Woffington's housewife, made by herself, homely to the eye, but holds everything in the world
    • 1997, David L. Phillips, A Soldier's Story, MetroBooks, →ISBN, page 61:
      The "soldier's housewife" was a small sewing kit that was carried to make timely repairs to clothing and equipment.
  4. (plural "housewives", obsolete) A worthless woman; a hussy.

Derived terms



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.



housewife (third-person singular simple present housewifes, present participle housewifing, simple past and past participle housewifed)

  1. Alternative form of housewive
    • 1983 December 10, Jolanta Benal, “The Second Revolution”, in Gay Community News, volume 11, number 21, page 14:
      Career opportunity [] is the one who never knocks — especially not on the doors of women, who are still hooking, housewifing and hairdressing for their livings.