mulier (plural muliers)
- (law, historical) Lawful issue born in wedlock, in distinction from an elder brother born of the same parents before their marriage.
- 1908, Alfred John Horwood, Luke Owen Pike, Year books of the reign of King Edward the Third: Volume 15:
- Or suppose an inquest were taken between us, and it were found that they are muliers, for which reason the voucher stood, and they came and pleaded the same exception to escape from warranting as heirs, then two inquests would be taken […]
Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for “mulier”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.)
From Proto-Italic *moljes, of uncertain origin; it has been proposed that it might derive from mollior, comparative of mollis (“soft, tender”), while others propose it might be akin to mulgere and therefore mean “the milk-giver”.
- (Classical) IPA(key): /ˈmu.li.er/, [ˈmʊlʲiɛr]
- (modern Italianate Ecclesiastical) IPA(key): /ˈmu.li.er/, [ˈmuːlier]
- a woman, female
- (by extension) a wife
- (figuratively) a coward, poltroon
- (Medieval Latin) a virgin adult
A mulier was a woman who was married in contrast with a virgo (“unmarried woman of a marriageable age”). Thus, if a noble young girl of age 12 got married, she would be called a mulier even though by today's standards, we would not call this girl a "woman". In contrast, if a common young woman of age 19 or 21 was still unmarried, she often was still called a virgo despite being much older than that young noble girl married at age 12.
If an older woman for whatever reason was not married off, she could be called a mulier too, so it is not a term used exclusively for married women.
- Balkan Romance:
- Insular Romance:
- North Italian:
- → English: mulier
- Walther von Wartburg (1928–2002), “mŭlier”, in Französisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch (in German), volume 6/3: Mobilis–Myxa, page 200