wed·​lock | \ ˈwed-ˌläk How to pronounce wedlock (audio) \

Definition of wedlock

: the state of being married : marriage, matrimony
out of wedlock
: with the natural parents not legally married to each other

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Examples of wedlock in a Sentence

joined the happy couple in holy wedlock

Recent Examples on the Web

But testimony made the definition clear: pregnancy or a child born out of wedlock. Mia Armstrong, Longreads, "In Sickness, In Health — and In Prison," 19 Aug. 2019 Not surprisingly, the number of births in Japan — a country where few people have children out of wedlock — is also tumbling. Motoko Rich, New York Times, "Craving Freedom, Japan’s Women Opt Out of Marriage," 3 Aug. 2019 The couple separated last year and reports of Johnson's alleged extra-marital affairs -- and children out of wedlock -- have long graced the pages of the UK papers. Sheena Mckenzie, CNN, "Think Boris Johnson breaks the mold? Wait until you meet his girlfriend," 26 July 2019 Mexico: Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz As a woman born out of wedlock in 17th century New Spain, now Mexico, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz had little opportunity for formal education. Adam Taylor, Washington Post, "How countries use bank notes to celebrate — and confront — their own history," 16 July 2019 But the designation still suggested she had been born out of wedlock. Washington Post, "Chile’s dictatorship-era children demand legal recognition," 24 June 2019 In the 20th century, paternity investigations were liberalized both for ethical reasons (so that women could share the burden of child-rearing outside wedlock) and economic (sparing poverty to otherwise fatherless children). Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, "DNA testing means forced fatherhood as states limit abortion," 16 June 2019 As for children born out of wedlock, courts, especially those operating in the civil law tradition, deduced paternity from a man’s actions or public reputation. The Conversation,, "Who’s is your daddy? It’s not all about DNA," 16 June 2019 Avoiding out-of-wedlock childbearing massively reduces the risk of poverty; doing so is within an individual’s control. Heather Mac Donald, WSJ, "Who ‘Deserves’ to Go to Harvard?," 13 June 2019

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

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First Known Use of wedlock

13th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for wedlock

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

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Dictionary Entries near wedlock

wedgwood blue

wedgwood green






Statistics for wedlock

Last Updated

26 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for wedlock

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

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English Language Learners Definition of wedlock

: the state of being married


wed·​lock | \ ˈwed-ˌläk How to pronounce wedlock (audio) \

Kids Definition of wedlock

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More from Merriam-Webster on wedlock

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with wedlock

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for wedlock

Spanish Central: Translation of wedlock

Nglish: Translation of wedlock for Spanish Speakers

Comments on wedlock

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


to spread over or through

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