Etymology
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widow (v.)
early 14c.; see widow (n.). Related: Widowed; widowing.
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widow (n.)

Old English widewe, wuduwe, from Proto-Germanic *widuwō (source also of Old Saxon widowa, Old Frisian widwe, Middle Dutch, Dutch weduwe, Dutch weeuw, Old High German wituwa, German Witwe, Gothic widuwo), from PIE adjective *widhewo (source also of Sanskrit vidhuh "lonely, solitary," vidhava "widow;" Avestan vithava, Latin vidua, Old Church Slavonic vidova, Russian vdova, Old Irish fedb, Welsh guedeu "widow;" Persian beva, Greek eitheos "unmarried man;" Latin viduus "bereft, void"), from root *uidh- "to separate, divide" (see with).

Extended to "woman separated from or deserted by her husband" from mid-15c. (usually in a combination, such as grass widow). As a prefix to a name, attested from 1570s. Meaning "short line of type" (especially at the top of a column) is 1904 print shop slang. Widow's mite is from Mark xii.43. Widow's peak is from the belief that hair growing to a point on the forehead is an omen of early widowhood, suggestive of the "peak" of a widow's hood. The widow bird (1747) so-called in reference to the long black tail feathers of the males, suggestive of widows' veils.

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widow-maker (n.)
"something lethally dangerous" (war, the sea, dangerous machinery, etc.), 1590s, from widow (n.) + maker.
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widowhood (n.)
c. 1200, from widow (n.) + -hood. Modifying or replacing Old English wuduwanhad "state of a woman who has no husband."
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widower (n.)
"man who has lost his wife by death," late 14c., extended from widow (n.). The Old English masc. form was widewa. Similar formation in Middle Dutch weduwer, German Wittwer. Related: Widowerhood.
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black widow (n.)

type of poisonous spider (Latrodectus mactans) in U.S. South, 1904, so called from its color and from the female's supposed habit of eating the male after mating (the males seem to get eaten more often before they mate, when they first enter the webs of the females, which have very poor eyesight). Sometimes also known as shoe-button spider. The name black widow is attested earlier (1830s) as a translation of a name of the "scorpion spider" of Central Asia.

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grass widow (n.)

1520s, the earliest recorded sense is "mistress;" the allusion to grass is not clear, but it commonly was believed to refer to casual bedding (compare bastard and German Strohwitwe, literally "straw-widow," and compare the expression give (a woman) a grass gown "roll her playfully on the grass" (1580s), also euphemistic for the loss of virginity). Revived late 18c. as "one that pretends to have been married, but never was, yet has children;" in early 19c. use it could mean "married woman whose husband is absent" (and often presumed, but not certainly known to be, dead), also often applied to a divorced or discarded wife or an unmarried woman who has had a child. Both euphemistic and suggestive.

[G]rasse wydowes ... be yet as seuerall as a barbours chayre and neuer take but one at onys. [More, 1528]
GRASS WIDOW, s. a forsaken fair one, whose nuptials, not celebrated in a church, were consummated, in all pastoral simplicity, on the green turf. [Rev. Robert Forby, "Vocabulary of East Anglia," London, 1830]
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merry widow 

"amorous or designing widow," 1907, from the English title of Franz Lehar's operetta "Die Lustige Witwe" (1905). "The Lusty Widow" would have been more etymological (see lust (n.)), but would have given the wrong impression in English. Meaning "a type of wide-brimmed hat" (popularized in the play) is attested from 1908.

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with (prep.)

Old English wið "against, opposite, from, toward, by, near," a shortened form related to wiðer, from Proto-Germanic *withro- "against" (source also of Old Saxon withar "against," Old Norse viðr "against, with, toward, at," Middle Dutch, Dutch weder, Dutch weer "again," Gothic wiþra "against, opposite"), from PIE *wi-tero-, literally "more apart," suffixed form of *wi- "separation" (source also of Sanskrit vi "apart," Avestan vi- "asunder," Sanskrit vitaram "further, farther," Old Church Slavonic vutoru "other, second"). Compare widow (n.).

Sense shifted in Middle English to denote association, combination, and union, partly by influence of Old Norse vidh, and also perhaps by Latin cum "with" (as in pugnare cum "fight with"). In this sense, it replaced Old English mid "with," which survives only as a prefix (as in midwife). Original sense of "against, in opposition" is retained in compounds such as withhold, withdraw, withstand.

Often treated as a conjunction by ungrammatical writers and used where and would be correct. First record of with child "pregnant" is recorded from c. 1200. With it "cool" is African-American vernacular, recorded by 1931. French avec "with" was originally avoc, from Vulgar Latin *abhoc, from apud hoc, literally "with this."

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dowager (n.)

1520s, "title given to a widow of rank to distinguish her from the wife of her husband's heir bearing the same name," from French douagere "widow with a dower" literally "pertaining to a dower," from douage "dower," from douer "endow," from Latin dotare, from dos (genitive dotis) "marriage portion, dowry" (from PIE *do-ti, from root *do- "to give").

"App. first used of Mary Tudor, widow of Louis XII; then of Catherine of Arragon, styled 'Princess Dowager'" [OED]. In law, "a widow possessed of a jointure."

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