Wife of the president of the U.S. Although the first lady's role has never been codified or officially defined, she figures prominently in the country's political and social life. Representative of her husband on official and ceremonial occasions both at home and abroad, the first lady is closely watched for some hint of her husband's thinking and for a clue to his future actions. The wife of the president played a public role from the founding of the U.S., but the title first lady did not come into general use until much later, near the end of the 19th century. By the end of the 20th century, the title had been absorbed into other languages and was often used, without translation, for the wife of a country's leadereven in countries where the leader's consort received far less attention and exerted much less influence than did her counterpart in the U.S. Although unpaid and unelected, she is able to influence behaviour and opinion, and some first ladies have used their influence to affect legislation on important matters such as temperance reform, housing improvement, and women's rights.