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Cohabitation of a man and a woman without the full sanctions of legal marriage. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the term concubine has been generally applied exclusively to women; Western studies of non-Western societies use it to refer to partners who are sanctioned by law but lack the status of full wives. See alsocommon-law marriage; harem; polygamy.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on concubinage, visit Britannica.com.