- (obsolete) A housewife.
c. 1601–1602, William Shakespeare, “Twelfe Night, or VVhat You VVill”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act I, scene iii], page 256:
- Then hadſt thou had an excellent head of haire. […] Excellent, it hangs like flax on a diſtaffe: & I hope to ſee a huſwife take thee between her legs, & ſpin it off.
- (obsolete) A worthless woman; a hussy.
1621, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], “Symptomes of Iealousie, Fear, Sorrow, Suspition, Strange Actions, Gestures, Outrages, Locking Up, Oathes, Trials, Lawes, &c.”, in The Anatomy of Melancholy, Oxford: Printed by Iohn Lichfield and Iames Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 216894069; The Anatomy of Melancholy. What It Is, with All the Kindes Causes, Symptomes, Prognostickes, & Seuerall Cures of It. In Three Partitions, with Their Severall Sections, Members & Subsections. Philosophically, Medicinally, Historically, Opened and Cut Up, by Democritus Iunior, with a Satyricall Preface, Conducing to the Following Discourse, 5th corrected and augmented edition, Oxford: Printed [by Robert Young, Miles Flesher, and Leonard Lichfield and William Turner] by Henry Cripps, 1638, OCLC 932915040, partition 3, section 3, member 2, subsection 1, page 610:
- He cals her on a ſudden, all to naught; ſhe is a ſtrumpet, a light huswife, a bitch, an arrant whore.
- A small case containing needles, scissors, thread, and other sewing things.
1811, [Jane Austen], chapter II, in Sense and Sensibility: A Novel. In Three Volumes, volume III, London: Printed for the author, by C[harles] Roworth, Bell-yard, Temple-bar, and published by T[homas] Egerton, Whitehall, OCLC 20599507, page 46:
- And for my part, I was all in a fright for fear your sister should ask us for the huswifes she had gave us a day or two before; but however, nothing was said about them, and I took care to keep mine out of sight.
1815 December (indicated as 1816), [Jane Austen], chapter I, in Emma: A Novel. In Three Volumes, volume II, London: Printed [by Charles Roworth and James Moyes] for John Murray, OCLC 1708336, page 6:
- Oh! here it is. I was sure it could not be far off; but I had put my huswife upon it, you see, without being aware, and so it was quite hid, but I had it in my hand so very lately that I was almost sure it must be on the table.