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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English midwif, corresponding to mid (with) + wif (woman, wife, female). It appears not to be entirely clear whether the original understanding was “with-woman” in the sense of “attending/assisting woman”, or “they who are with the woman” (namely the mother).


  • IPA(key): /ˈmɪd.waɪf/
  • (obsolete) IPA(key): /ˈmɪd.(w)ɪf/[1]
  • (file)


midwife (plural midwives)

  1. A person, usually a woman, who is trained to assist women in childbirth, but who is not a physician.
    A hundred years ago, a midwife would bring the baby into the world - going to a hospital to deliver a baby was either impossible or unheard of.
  2. (rare, figurative) Someone who assists in bringing about some result or project.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The term is applicable to both males and females. Despite this, the term midhusband is also sometimes used (usually in nonserious contexts).


Coordinate terms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



midwife (third-person singular simple present midwifes, present participle midwifing, simple past and past participle midwifed)

  1. (transitive) To act as a midwife.
  2. (transitive, figurative) To facilitate the emergence of.
    • Thomas L. Friedman. "Attention: Baby on Board." New York Times. April 13, 2010.
      But the bigger objective was to help Iraqis midwife a democratic model that could inspire reform across the Arab-Muslim world and give the youth there a chance at a better future.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The earliest forms of the verb used v in place of f (see to midwive); however, forms with f (to midwife) are now just as common if not more commonly seen.


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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jespersen, Otto (1909) A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles (Sammlung germanischer Elementar- und Handbücher; 9)‎[1], volume I: Sounds and Spellings, London: George Allen & Unwin, published 1961, § 7.32, page 214.