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From Middle English wombe, wambe, from Old English womb, wamb (belly, stomach; bowels; heart; womb; hollow), from Proto-West Germanic *wambu, from Proto-Germanic *wambō (belly, stomach, abdomen)[1]. 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 vom (rumen), 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). Superseded non-native Middle English mater, matere (womb) and matris, matrice (womb) borrowed from Latin māter (womb) and Old French matrice (womb), respectively.


  • IPA(key): /wuːm/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -uːm


womb (plural wombs)

  1. (anatomy) In female mammals, the organ in which the young are conceived and grow until birth; the uterus. [from 8th c.]
  2. (obsolete) The abdomen or stomach. [8th–17th c.]
    • 1470–1485 (date produced), Thomas Malory, “(please specify the chapter)”, in [Le Morte Darthur], book V, [London: [] by William Caxton], published 31 July 1485, →OCLC; republished as H[einrich] Oskar Sommer, editor, Le Morte Darthur [], London: David Nutt, [], 1889, →OCLC:
      And his hede, hym semed,was enamyled with asure, and his shuldyrs shone as the golde, and his wombe was lyke mayles of a merveylous hew [].
      (please add an English translation of this quote)
  3. (obsolete) The stomach of a person or creature. [8th–18th c.]
  4. (figuratively) A place where something is made or formed. [from 15th c.]
  5. Any cavity containing and enveloping anything.


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

  1. (transitive, obsolete) To enclose in a womb, or as if in a womb; to breed or hold in secret.


  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “womb”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.

Further reading[edit]

Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of wombe