\ ˈwet-ˌnərs How to pronounce wet-nurse (audio) \
wet-nursed; wet-nursing; wet-nurses

Definition of wet-nurse

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to care for and breastfeed (another woman's baby) : to act as wet nurse to
2 : to give constant and often excessive care to

wet nurse


Definition of wet nurse (Entry 2 of 2)

: a woman who cares for and breastfeeds children not her own

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Synonyms for wet-nurse

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of wet-nurse in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Lina and Oviedo are happy with their twins, but Lina is struggling to produce milk, necessitating a wet nurse. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "The Spanish Princess recap: What’s love got to do with it?," 26 Oct. 2020 Other photos in Castillo’s ersatz work, paired with quotes (as in the official passport), include a Japanese American incarceration camp, migrant farmworkers, cotton pickers as well as enslaved African American wet nurses and nannies. R. Daniel Foster, Los Angeles Times, "Why artist Pilar Castillo made this hyper-real but very fake U.S. passport," 16 Apr. 2020 Some slaves, Jones-Rogers could say, were even known to serve as wet nurses, suckling the babes of their white counterparts. Nathan Deuel, Los Angeles Times, "Helpless women? Not these slave owners," 17 Apr. 2020 Her aunt was the soprano Valentina Bartolomasi, and young Mirella had the same wet nurse as the baby boy born 7 1/2 months later who would become Modena's most famous singer: Luciano Pavarotti. Ronald Blum, USA TODAY, "Renowned Italian soprano Mirella Freni, last of a golden era of singers, dies at age 84," 10 Feb. 2020 Until around 1900, wealthy families could hire a wet nurse, an arrangement that often compromised the health of the nurse’s own infant. Alice Callahan, Smithsonian, "In Pursuit of a Better Baby Formula," 25 Oct. 2019 Slave children could be sold away and slave wet nurses hired out, producing more income for slave owners. NBC News, "It's not just men: White conservative women have played key role in abortion policy changes this year," 13 Aug. 2019 The goal: produce more slave children or potential wet nurses at times opportune for the owners. NBC News, "It's not just men: White conservative women have played key role in abortion policy changes this year," 13 Aug. 2019 The alpha female not only didn’t shun the beta’s young — with her own pups mostly weaned, Beira pitched in as wet nurse to the new brood. Natalie Angier, New York Times, "Wild Pups Romp Again in an African Paradise," 3 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'wet-nurse.' 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 wet-nurse


1784, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1620, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for wet-nurse

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The first known use of wet-nurse was in 1620

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Statistics for wet-nurse

Cite this Entry

“Wet-nurse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wet-nurse. Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for wet-nurse

wet nurse


English Language Learners Definition of wet nurse

old-fashioned : a woman who cares for and breast-feeds other people's babies as a job

wet nurse


Medical Definition of wet nurse

: a woman who cares for and breastfeeds young not her own

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Nglish: Translation of wet-nurse for Spanish Speakers

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