Words related to wife
"adult female human," late Old English wimman, wiman (plural wimmen), literally "woman-man," alteration of wifman (plural wifmen) "woman, female servant" (8c.), a compound of wif "woman" (see wife) + man "human being" (in Old English used in reference to both sexes; see man (n.)). Compare Dutch vrouwmens "wife," literally "woman-man."
It is notable that it was thought necessary to join wif, a neuter noun, representing a female person, to man, a masc. noun representing either a male or female person, to form a word denoting a female person exclusively. [Century Dictionary]
The formation is peculiar to English and Dutch. Replaced older Old English wif and quean as the word for "female human being," as in Jesus's answer to his mother, in Anglo-Saxon gospels la, wif, hwæt is me and þe? (John ii:4 "Woman, what have I to do with thee?").
The pronunciation of the singular altered in Middle English by the rounding influence of -w-; the plural retains the original vowel. Meaning "wife," now largely restricted to U.S. dialectal use, is attested from mid-15c.
In American English, lady is "In loose and especially polite usage, a woman" [Craigie, "Dictionary of American English"]. This peculiarity was much commented upon by English travelers; in the U.S. the custom was considered especially Southern, but the English didn't bother with nice distinctions and regarded it simply as American. "This noble word [woman], spirit-stirring as it passes over English ears, is in America banished, and 'ladies' and 'females' substituted; the one to English taste mawkish and vulgar; the other indistinctive and gross. The effect is odd." [Harriet Martineau, 1837]
Woman-hater "misogynist" is from c. 1600. Women's work, that considered appropriate to women, is from 1660s. Women's liberation is attested from 1966; women's rights is from 1840, with an isolated example in 1630s.
Middle English quene, "pre-eminent female noble; consort of a king," also "female sovereign, woman ruling in her own right," from Old English cwen "queen, female ruler of a state; woman; wife," from Proto-Germanic *kwoeniz (source also of Old Saxon quan "wife," Old Norse kvaen, Gothic quens), ablaut variant of *kwenon (source of quean), from PIE root *gwen- "woman."
The most ancient Germanic sense of the word seems to have been "wife," which had specialized by Old English times to "wife of a king." In Old Norse the cognate word was still mostly "a wife" generally, as in kvan-fang "marriage, taking of a wife," kvanlauss "unmarried, widowed," kvan-riki "the domineering of a wife."
In reference to anything personified as chief or greatest, and considered as possessing female attributes, from late Old English. Figuratively, of a woman who is chief or pre-eminent among others or in some sphere by 1590s. Queen-mother "widow of a king who is also the mother of a reigning sovereign" is by 1570s (colloquial queen mum is by 1960).
English is one of the few Indo-European languages to have a word for "queen" that is not a feminine derivative of a word for "king." The others are Scandinavian: Old Norse drottning, Danish dronning, Swedish drottning "queen," in Old Norse also "mistress," but these also are held to be ultimately from male words, such as Old Norse drottinn "master."
The chess piece (with the freest movement and thus the most power in attack) was so called from c. 1400. As a verb in chess, in reference to a pawn that has reached the opponent's side of the board and become a queen (usually), from 1789. The playing card was so called from 1570s.
Of bees from c. 1600 (until late 17c., they generally were thought to be kings; as in "Henry V," I.ii, but the Anglo-Saxons knew better: their word was beomodor); queen bee "fully developed female bee," the mother of the hive, is used in a figurative sense by 1807.
Meaning "male homosexual" (especially a feminine and ostentatious one) is certainly recorded by 1924; probably as an alteration or misunderstanding of quean, which is earlier in this sense but had become obscure. Cincinnati, Ohio, has been the Queen City (of the West) since 1835. In commercial reference to an extra-large bed size (but generally smaller than king), by 1954.
Middle English quene "a woman; a low-born woman," from Old English cwene "woman," also "female serf, hussy, prostitute" (as in portcwene "public woman"), from Proto-Germanic *kwenon (source also of Old Saxon quan, Old High German quena, Old Norse kona, Gothic qino "wife, woman," Middle Dutch quene "vain or worthless woman"), from PIE root *gwen- "woman." Compare queen (n.). The -ea- spelling is attested from early 15c.
Woman considered without regard to qualities or position (perhaps by contrast to the senses in queen), hence often a slighting or abusive term for a woman; in Middle English it could mean "a harlot; an old woman or crone," and it was in popular use 16c.-17c. in the sense of "hussy." But in Scottish often with a sense of "young, robust woman" (late 15c.).
The sense of "effeminate homosexual" is recorded by 1935, according to Partridge this was especially in Australian slang.
1610s (intransitive) "move to and fro;" 1660s, "swing to and fro;" from Latin vibratus, past participle of vibrare "set in tremulous motion, move quickly to and fro, quiver, tremble, shake," from PIE *wib-ro-, from root *weip- "to turn, vacillate, tremble ecstatically, move quickly to and fro." Transitive sense "cause to vibrate" is from c. 1700. Related: Vibrated; vibrating.
early 13c., husewif, "woman, usually married, in charge of a family or household; wife of a householder," from huse "house" (see house (n.)) + wif "woman" (see wife (n.)). Compare husband (n.). Originally pronounced "huzzif;" the full written form of it began to be used from c. 1500, representing a pronunciation shift that was made at least in part to distinguish it from its offspring, hussy. In 16c., "housewife and hussy were still realized to be same word," and it was felt "that a distinction between the two was due to the reputable matron" [Fowler]. From mid-18c.: "It is common to use housewife in a good, and huswife or hussy in a bad sense" [Johnson]. Related: Housewifely.
Old English husbonda "male head of a household, master of a house, householder," probably from Old Norse husbondi "master of the house," literally "house-dweller," from hus "house" (see house (n.)) + bondi "householder, dweller, freeholder, peasant," from buandi, present participle of bua "to dwell" (from PIE root *bheue- "to be, exist, grow," and compare bond (adj.)).
Slang shortening hubby is attested by 1680s. Beginning late 13c. it replaced Old English wer as "married man (in relation to his wife)" and became the companion word of wife, a sad loss for English poetry. Old English wer, in the broadest sense "man, male person" (from PIE root *wi-ro- "man"), is preserved in werewolf.