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From Middle English wombe, wambe, from Old English womb, wamb (belly, stomach; bowels; heart; womb; hollow), from Proto-Germanic *wambō (belly, stomach, abdomen)[1], from Proto-Indo-European *wamp- (membrane (of bowels), intestines, womb). Cognate with Scots wam, wame (womb), Dutch wam (dewlap of beef; belly of a fish), German Wamme, Wampe (paunch, belly), Danish vom (belly, paunch, rumen), Swedish våmb (belly, stomach, rumen), Norwegian vomb (belly), Icelandic vömb (belly, abdomen, stomach), Old Welsh gumbelauc (womb), Breton gwamm (woman, wife), Sanskrit वपा (vapā́, the skin or membrane lining the intestines or parts of the viscera, the caul or omentum).



womb (plural wombs)

  1. (anatomy) In female mammals, the organ in which the young are conceived and grow until birth; the uterus. [from 8thc.]
  2. (obsolete) The abdomen or stomach. [8th-17thc.]
  3. (obsolete) The stomach of a person or creature. [8th-18thc.]
    • 1395, John Wycliffe, Bible, Jonah II:
      And þe Lord made redi a gret fish þat he shulde swolewe Ionas; and Ionas was in wombe of þe fish þre daȝes and þre niȝtis.
  4. (figuratively) A place where something is made or formed. [from 15thc.]
    • Dryden
      The womb of earth the genial seed receives.
    • 1826, Mary Shelley, The Last Man, part 2, chapter 7
      The shadows of the future hours rose dark and menacing from the womb of time [...]
  5. Any cavity containing and enveloping anything.
    • Robert Browning
      The centre spike of gold / Which burns deep in the bluebell's womb.


Derived terms[edit]



womb (third-person singular simple present wombs, present participle wombing, simple past and past participle wombed)

  1. (obsolete) To enclose in a womb, or as if in a womb; to breed or hold in secret.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)


  1. ^ womb” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2018.

Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of wombe