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grass widow

a woman who is separated, divorced, or lives apart from her husband.
a woman whose husband is away from home frequently or for a long time, as on business or to pursue a sport or hobby.
  1. a discarded mistress.
  2. a woman who has borne an illegitimate child.
Origin of grass widow
1520-30; the first element perhaps orig. alluding to a bed of grass, hay, or the like; compare Dutch grasweduwe, German Strohwittwe literally, straw-widow
Related forms
grasswidowhood, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for grass-widow
Historical Examples
  • May I be forgiven for saying so, but in Lublin, in the Jewish quarter, there isn't a house without a grass-widow!

    Stories and Pictures Isaac Loeb Peretz
  • Far be it from me to assert that every Hill grass-widow forgets her absent husband.

    Life in an Indian Outpost Gordon Casserly
  • But she did not fancy Simla in the season as a grass-widow, and had had quite enough of being alone.

    Forty-one years in India Frederick Sleigh Roberts
  • Samuel could not imagine his grass-widow, Mrs. De Ferriac, causing any very righteous blows on her own account.

    Flappers and Philosophers F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • My Lyddy does not care about being a grass-widow, gentlemen.

    The Silent House Fergus Hume
  • By gum, Mosey, I'd marry a grass-widow with a second-hand family before I'd do my own cooking.

    The Wizard's Daughter and Other Stories Margaret Collier Graham
  • He had had nothing from her except friendship and girlish romance and a grass-widow's belated affection.

    We Can't Have Everything Rupert Hughes
British Dictionary definitions for grass-widow

grass widow

a woman divorced, separated, or living away from her spouse
a woman whose spouse is regularly away for short periods
Word Origin
C16, meaning a discarded mistress: perhaps an allusion to a grass bed as representing an illicit relationship; compare bastard; C19 in the modern sense
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for grass-widow

grass widow


1520s, originally "discarded mistress" (cf. German Strohwitwe, literally "straw-widow"), probably in reference to casual bedding. Sense of "married woman whose husband is absent" is from 1846.

[G]rasse wydowes ... be yet as seuerall as a barbours chayre and neuer take but one at onys. [More, 1528]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for grass-widow

grass widow

noun phrase

A woman who is alone because of divorce, separation, rejection, etc

[1839+; because her husband is still above the grass rather than under it]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with grass-widow

grass widow

A woman who is separated from her husband, either by divorce or temporary absence. For example, She's a grass widow these days, with Herb traveling to golf tournaments all over the country. The expression dates from the 16th century, when it referred to the mother of an illegitimate child, grass presumably alluding to the open-air setting of the child's conception.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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