Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English huswyfery, huswyffrye, howswyfry, equivalent to housewife +‎ -ry.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈhaʊswɪfəɹi/, /ˈhaʊswɪfɹi/


housewifery (usually uncountable, plural housewiferies)

  1. The state or activity of being a housewife; household management, domestic skills. [from 15th c.]
    • 1653, Margaret Cavendish, Poems and Fancies, London: J. Martin & J. Allestrye, “To the Reader,”[1]
      [] I have no Children to imploy my Care, and Attendance on; And my Lords Estate being taken away, had nothing for Huswifery, or thrifty Industry to imploy my selfe in; having no Stock to work on. For Housewifery is a discreet Management, and ordering all in Private, and Household Affaires, seeing nothing spoil’d, or Profusely spent, that every thing has its proper Place, and every Servant his proper Work, and every Work to be done in its proper Time; to be Neat, and Cleanly, to have their House quiet from all disturbing Noise. But Thriftiness is something stricter; for good Housewifery may be used in great Expenses; but Thriftiness signifies a Saving, or a getting; as to increase their Stock, or Estate.
    • 1895, Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure, Chapter 5,[2]
      When the schoolmaster got back Sue was making a pretence of doing some housewifery as if she lived there.
    • 1918, Rebecca West, The Return of the Soldier, Virago 2014, p. 39:
      ‘How you've forgotten,’ she cried, and ran up to him, rattling her keys and looking grave with housewifery []
    • 1936, William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom! New York: Modern Library, 1951, Chapter 5, p. 156,[3]
      [] drafted by circumstance at too soon an age into a pinch-penny housewifery which might have existed just as well upon a lighthouse rock []
  2. (obsolete) Household goods. [16th-19th c.]