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[hous-wahyf or, usually, huhz-if for 2] /ˈhaʊsˌwaɪf or, usually, ˈhʌz ɪf for 2/
noun, plural housewives
[hous-wahyvz] /ˈhaʊsˌwaɪvz/ (Show IPA)
Sometimes Offensive. a married woman who manages her own household, especially as her principal occupation.
British. a sewing box; a small case or box for needles, thread, etc.
verb (used with object), verb (used without object), housewifed, housewifing.
Archaic. to manage with efficiency and economy, as a household.
Origin of housewife
1175-1225; Middle English hus(e)wif. See house, wife
Can be confused
homemaker, housewife (see usage note at the current entry)
Usage note
Most people, married or unmarried, find the term housewife perfectly acceptable. But it is sometimes perceived as insulting, perhaps because it implies a lowly status (“She’s just a housewife”) or because it defines an occupation in terms of a woman's relation to a man. Homemaker is a fairly common substitute. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for housewife
  • Another octogenarian spent her life as a soft-spoken housewife, contracted cancer, and went through chemotherapy.
  • Legend has it a housewife created the recipe, sent it into a magazine, and won a prize.
  • Better than flocks and herds, being proofs of her skill as a housewife.
  • The narrative is addressed to the hypothetical absent housewife.
  • Perhaps yoga, which was largely displaced by knitting as the housewife's trend, can now make a comeback.
  • The housewife may expect a drop in sugar cost if current price movements in the wholesale markets prevail.
  • She moves in with him without asking, doing all the chores a housewife would do.
  • Apparently you can make a desperate housewife cover up.
British Dictionary definitions for housewife


noun (pl) -wives
a woman, typically a married woman, who keeps house, usually without having paid employment
(mainly Brit) Also called hussy, huswife (ˈhʌzɪf). a small sewing kit issued to soldiers
Derived Forms
housewifery (ˈhaʊsˌwɪfərɪ; -ˌwɪfrɪ) noun
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 housewife

early 13c., husewif, "woman, usually married, in charge of a family or household" (cf. husebonde; see husband), from huse "house" (see house (n.)) + wif "woman" (see wife). Also see hussy. Related: Housewifely.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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