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Alternative forms[edit]


Compound of sister +‎ wife.


sister-wife (plural sister-wives)

  1. A woman who is simultaneously sister and wife to her spouse.
    Coordinate term: brother-husband
    • 1743, trans. Philip Francis, “Odes”, in Horace, volume III, iii, page 64:
      My Grecians shall victorious prove, By me led on to War, the Sister-Wife of Jove.
    • 1853, Henry N. Humphreys, The coin collector's manual, page 118:
      Ptolemy VII [] married Cleopatra, the sister-wife of his predecessor.
    • 1974, Joseph Fontenrose, Python: A Study of Delphic Myth and Its Origins, page 257:
      Anat as sister-wife of Baal, Isis as mother of Horos and sister-wife of Osiris, Hera as sister-wife of Zeus
  2. In a polygamous marriage, a woman who is simultaneously the sister and co-wife of another.
    • 1853, quoted in Robert Cox, Sabbath Laws and Sabbath Duties, page 194:
      Enmities between sister-wives will [be,] from their having known each other too intimately all their lives, more unmannerly than where they are strangers to each other
  3. A co-wife in general.
    • 2006, Xiaoxiaosheng, trans. David Tod Roy, The plum in the golden vase, or, Chin P'ing Mei, page 21:
      Yüeh-niang and her sister-wives, all dressed in formal gowns, came out from inside to greet them and ushered them into the rear reception hall
    • 2008, Miriam Koktvedgaard Zeitzen, Polygamy: A Cross-Cultural Analysis, page 97:
      The concept of 'sisterhood' was popularly applied to the official organizations for Mormon women, and Mormon co-wives were and are still known as 'sister-wives'