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definitions - Widow

widow (n.)

1.a woman whose husband is dead especially one who has not remarried

widow (v.)

1.cause to be without a spouse"The war widowed many women in the former Yugoslavia"

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Merriam Webster

WidowWid"ow (wĭd"�), n. [OE. widewe, widwe, AS. weoduwe, widuwe, wuduwe; akin to OFries. widwe, OS. widowa, D. weduwe, G. wittwe, witwe, OHG. wituwa, witawa, Goth. widuwō, Russ. udova, OIr. fedb, W. gweddw, L. vidua, Skr. vidhavā; and probably to Skr. vidh to be empty, to lack; cf. Gr. "hi`qeos a bachelor. √248. Cf. Vidual.] A woman who has lost her husband by death, and has not married again; one living bereaved of a husband. “A poor widow.” Chaucer.

2. (Card Playing) In various games (such as “hearts”), any extra hand or part of a hand, as one dealt to the table. It may be taken by one of the players under certain circumstances.

Grass widow. See under Grass. -- Widow bewitched, a woman separated from her husband; a grass widow. [Colloq.] -- Widow-in-mourning (Zoöl.), the macavahu. -- Widow monkey (Zoöl.), a small South American monkey (Callithrix lugens); -- so called on account of its color, which is black except the dull whitish arms, neck, and face, and a ring of pure white around the face. -- Widow's chamber (Eng. Law), in London, the apparel and furniture of the bedchamber of the widow of a freeman, to which she was formerly entitled.

WidowWid"ow, a. Widowed. “A widow woman.” 1 Kings xvii. 9. “This widow lady.” Shak.

WidowWid"ow, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Widowed (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Widowing.]

1. To reduce to the condition of a widow; to bereave of a husband; -- rarely used except in the past participle.

Though in thus city he
Hath widowed and unchilded many a one,
Which to this hour bewail the injury.

2. To deprive of one who is loved; to strip of anything beloved or highly esteemed; to make desolate or bare; to bereave.

The widowed isle, in mourning,
Dries up her tears.

Tress of their shriveled fruits
Are widowed, dreary storms o'er all prevail.
J. Philips.

Mourn, widowed queen; forgotten Sion, mourn. Heber.

3. To endow with a widow's right. [R.] Shak.

4. To become, or survive as, the widow of. [Obs.]

Let me be married to three kings in a forenoon, and widow
them all.

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definition (more)

definition of Wikipedia

synonyms - Widow

widow (n.)

lady, widow woman, relict  (old)


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analogical dictionary




A widow is a woman whose spouse or significant other has died, while a widower is a man whose spouse or significant other has died. The state of having lost one's spouse to death is termed widowhood or occasionally viduity. The adjective form is widowed. The treatment of widows around the world varies, but unequal benefits and treatment generally received by widows versus widowers globally has spurred an interest in the issue by human rights activists.[1]


  Economic position

  "Valentine of Milan Mourning her Husband, the Duke of Orléans" by Fleury-François Richard.
  Statue of a mother at the Yasukuni shrine, dedicated to war widows who raised their children alone.

In societies in which the husband was typically the sole provider, his death could plunge his family into poverty. This problem can be aggravated by the general longer life of women[citation needed], and that men in many societies traditionally marry women younger than themselves[citation needed]. However, even in some patriarchal societies, widows could maintain economic independence. A widow could carry on her late husband's business and consequently be accorded certain rights, such as the right to enter guilds. More recently, widows of elected officials have been among the first women elected to office in many countries, such as Corazón Aquino.

In 1800s Britain, widows had more opportunity for social mobility than in many other societies throughout history. Also, along with the ability to ascend socio-economically, women who were “presumably celibate” were much more able (and likely) to challenge conventional sexual behavior than married women in their society.[2]

In some parts of Europe, including Russia, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Italy, and Spain, widows used to wear black for the rest of their lives to signify their mourning. This mourning ritual does not remain in practice today as before. Many immigrants of these cultures to the United States as recently as the 1970s have loosened this strict standard of dress to only two years of black garments[citation needed]. However, Orthodox immigrants may wear life-long black in the U.S. to signify their widow status and devotion to their deceased husband.

In other cultures, however, widowhood is much stricter and unarguably more demeaning to women's rights. Often, women are required to remarry within the family of their late husband after a period of mourning[citation needed]. With the rise of HIV/AIDS levels of infection across the globe, rituals to which women are subjected in order to be “cleansed” or accepted into her new husband's home make her susceptible to the psychological adversities that may be involved as well as impeding health risks[citation needed].

It is often necessary for women to comply with the social customs of her area because her fiscal stature is dependent on it, but this custom is also often abused by others as a way to keep money within the patriarchal family.[3] It is also uncommon for widows to challenge their treatment because they are often “unaware of their rights under the modern law…because of their low status, and lack of education or legal representation.” [1]

In the U.S., as of 2004, women who are “widowed at younger ages are at greatest risk for economic hardship.” Similarly, married women who are in a financially unstable household are more likely to become widows “because of the strong relationship between mortality [of the male head] and wealth [of the household].”[3] In underdeveloped and developing areas of the world, conditions for widows are much more severe still. However, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (“now ratified by 135 countries”), while slow, is working on proposals which will make certain types of discrimination and treatment of widows (such as violence and withholding property rights) illegal in the countries that have joined CEDAW.[1]

  Widows in Indian culture

In India, there is often an elaborate ceremony during the funeral of a widow's husband, including smashing the bangles, removing the bindi as well as any colorful attire, and requiring the woman to wear white clothes, the color of mourning. Earlier it was compulsory to wear all white after the husband was dead, and even a tradition known as sati was practiced, where the newly widowed woman would throw her body onto her husband's burning funeral pyre and immolate herself.

However, in modern-day culture the norms for clothing have gradually given way to colored clothing, and sati practice has been banned in India for more than a century. The ban began under British rule and is much owed to the persistence of social reformer Ram Mohan Roy, who asserted that sati was a means of showing status rather than a universal ritual in India, and that “there are other ways of doing it than by burning wives.” [4]

However, certain matrilinear communities, the most notable being the Nairs from Kerala not only allow, but encourage widow remarriage. In these societies, children retain the family name of the mother, and women were permitted to divorce and remarry if they wished.

  See also


  1. ^ a b c Owen, Margaret. A World of Widows. Illustrated. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Zed Books, 1996. 181-183. eBook.
  2. ^ Behrendt, Stephen C. "Women without Men: Barbara Hofland and the Economics of Widowhood." Eighteenth Century Fiction 17.3 (2005): 481-508. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 14 Sept. 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Imagine...." Widows' Rights International. Web. 14 Sep 2010. <http://www.widowsrights.org/index.htm>.
  4. ^ Major, Andrea. Sati: A Historical Anthology. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007. 463. Print.

  External links



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