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From Middle English wifly, wifli, from Old English wīflīc ‎(womanly, wifely), from Proto-Germanic *wībalīkaz ‎(wifely), equivalent to wife +‎ -ly. Cognate with Scots wyfelie ‎(womanly, wifely), Dutch wijflijk, German weiblich ‎(feminine, female).


wifely ‎(comparative wifelier, superlative wifeliest)

  1. Of, befitting, pertaining to, or characteristic of a wife.
    • 1869, Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, Part 2, Chapter 38,[1]
      Being a domestic man, John decidedly missed the wifely attentions he had been accustomed to receive, but as he adored his babies, he cheerfully relinquished his comfort for a time, supposing with masculine ignorance that peace would soon be restored.
    • 1944, Emily Carr, The House of All Sorts, “Unmarried,”[2]
      A woman who does not nose into the domestic arrangements of the place she is going to occupy gives the first hint, for a woman indifferent to the heating, furnishing, plumbing, cooking utensils of her home is not wifely.
    • 1960, P[elham] G[renville] Wodehouse, “chapter XVII”, in Jeeves in the Offing, London: Herbert Jenkins, OCLC 1227855:
      I endeavoured to soothe. “You can't blame yourself.” “Yes, I can.” “It isn't your fault.” “I invited Wilbert Cream here.” “Merely from a wifely desire to do [your husband] a bit of good.”