con·​cu·​bine | \ ˈkäŋ-kyu̇-ˌbīn How to pronounce concubine (audio) , ˈkän-, -kyü-\

Definition of concubine

: a woman with whom a man cohabits without being married: such as
a : one having a recognized social status in a household below that of a wife

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for concubine


doxy (also doxie), mistress, other woman, woman

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of concubine in a Sentence

spent an exorbitant sum on furnishing living quarters for his concubine

Recent Examples on the Web

Royal gardens, peeling frescoes, and tiled mosaics are breathtaking in their beauty, but the zenith of any visit is a wander through the sultan’s harem, once home to hundreds of concubines and their eunuch guards. Ashlea Halpern, Condé Nast Traveler, "Three Days In Istanbul," 28 Dec. 2018 The story is about a concubine of Grenada’s royal court, Fatima, and her friend Hassan, the court’s cartographer. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "All the science fiction and fantasy books we’re looking forward to in 2019," 30 Dec. 2018 The swells, the potentates would have gone off with their concubines and pet slaves and soldier guards . . . Lance Morrow, WSJ, "Did Chivalry Go Down With the Titanic?," 14 Dec. 2018 According to former follower Niki Lopez, who later testified against York in court, children were forced to live separately from their parents and were beaten with wire hangers and broom sticks and sometimes starved by York’s concubines. Christine Pelisek,, "The Story Behind a Black Supremacist Cult That Lived in Egyptian-Themed Compound in Rural Georgia," 6 July 2018 Historian Mario De Valdes y Cocom argues that Charlotte was directly descended from a black branch of the Portuguese royal family: Alfonso III and his concubine, Ouruana, a black Moor. Deneen L. Brown, Washington Post, "Meghan Markle, Queen Charlotte and the wedding of Britain’s first mixed-race royal," 15 May 2018 The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu) Set in a dystopian future where people are unable to get pregnant, the few woman who can get pregnant are forced to become concubines and bear children for the upper class. Noelle Devoe, Seventeen, "10 Best TV Shows of 2017," 15 Dec. 2017 Little girls were also purchased and used as household slaves until old enough to become prostitutes or concubines. Gary Kamiya, San Francisco Chronicle, "Shame of the city: When Chinese sex slaves were trafficked in SF," 5 Jan. 2018 Her father, a former rebel commander, had eight wives and numerous concubines. The Economist, "The perils of polygamyThe link between polygamy and war," 16 Dec. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'concubine.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of concubine

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for concubine

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin concubina, from com- + cubare to lie

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about concubine

Statistics for concubine

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for concubine

The first known use of concubine was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for concubine



English Language Learners Definition of concubine

: an unmarried woman who has sex with a man and lives with the man and his wife or wives

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on concubine

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with concubine

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for concubine

Britannica English: Translation of concubine for Arabic Speakers

Comments on concubine

What made you want to look up concubine? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a device or gadget

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!