wed·​lock ˈwed-ˌläk How to pronounce wedlock (audio)
: the state of being married : marriage, matrimony
out of wedlock
: with the natural parents not legally married to each other

Examples of wedlock in a Sentence

joined the happy couple in holy wedlock
Recent Examples on the Web In a big step forward, Brandan also got the Mary’s grandfather's blessing to marry her — naturally, the family wanted them to get married quickly so the baby would not be born out of wedlock. Kelly Wynne, Peoplemag, 17 Oct. 2023 The incessant fighting was taking a toll beyond just Brandan and Mary — the family’s reputation was plummeting in town, not only because of Mary's pregnancy out of wedlock, but also because of the tense arguments all the neighbors could hear. Kelly Wynne, Peoplemag, 10 Oct. 2023 Some of the children came from rich families, who in many cases gave up babies born out of wedlock. Rafael Romo, CNN, 9 Sep. 2023 Whether or not Bernstein saw wedlock as cover is left open to interpretation, but his love for Felicia is unequivocal. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 2 Sep. 2023 French law changed in 1972 to give children born out of wedlock rights of inheritance; the siblings won a court ruling in March 1974, almost a year after their father’s death, to further establish their legitimacy. Richard Sandomir, New York Times, 27 Aug. 2023 Advertisement Lister, a precocious tomboy who seemingly knows something about everything, and Raine, a half-Indian heiress born out of wedlock, were fellow outcasts who found each other at the Manor School in 1805. Chris Vognar, Los Angeles Times, 25 Aug. 2023 The Arkansas girl is the child of Biden's controversial son, Hunter Biden, who fathered her out of wedlock. Dana Taylor, USA TODAY, 29 July 2023 When Gao becomes pregnant out of wedlock, the two are forced to share their deepest insecurities and come together to create their own futures. Alice Wu, Women's Health, 26 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'wedlock.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English wedlok, from Old English wedlāc marriage bond, from wedd pledge + -lāc, suffix denoting activity

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of wedlock was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near wedlock

Cite this Entry

“Wedlock.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


wed·​lock ˈwed-ˌläk How to pronounce wedlock (audio)
: the state of being married

More from Merriam-Webster on wedlock

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