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See also: widowmaker and widow maker


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Alternative forms




From widow +‎ maker.





widow-maker (plural widow-makers)

  1. (idiomatic) Something which or someone who takes the lives of men; a lethal hazard that affects mostly men or is specific to a primarily male trade.
    • c. 1596 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Life and Death of King Iohn”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene ii]:
      O, it grieves my soul,
      That I must draw this metal from my side
      To be a widow-maker!
    • 1906, Rudyard Kipling, Harp Song of the Dane Women:
      What is a woman that you forsake her,
      And the hearth-fire and the home-acre,
      To go with the old grey Widow-maker?
    • 1973, Peter F. Drucker, Management: tasks, responsibilities, practices, published 1999, page 316:
      Finally, jobs that are 'widow-makers' should be rethought and restructured. In the heyday of the great sailing ships, around 1850, just before the coming of steam, every shipping company had a widow-maker on its hands once in a while. ... One typical 'widow-maker' has been the job of international vice-president in the large American company.
  2. (forestry) The detached or broken limb of a tree, a hazard to those walking underneath.
    Synonym: fool killer
  3. (medicine, informal) The left coronary artery, or its anterior interventricular branch, occlusion of which is likely to cause a fatal heart attack.
  4. (slang) The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter.