wet-nurse

1 of 2

verb

wet-nursed; wet-nursing; wet-nurses

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

2 of 2

noun

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

Examples of wet-nurse in a Sentence

Verb wet-nursed the woman's baby until she was well enough to do it herself recent college grads quickly learn that employers won't wet-nurse them the way that their teachers did
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
In von Horn’s pic, set in post WW1 Copenhagen, the focal point is Karoline (Sonne), a young pregnant factory worker, who takes on the job of a wet-nurse for the charismatic Dagmar (Dyrholm) in order to escape poverty. Elsa Keslassy, Variety, 19 May 2024 With nowhere else to turn, Karoline takes on the role of a wet-nurse, and a strong connection forms between the two women. Christopher Vourlias, Variety, 10 May 2024 In Von Horn’s pic, set in post WW1 Copenhagen, the focal point is Karoline (Sonne), a young pregnant factory worker, who takes on the job of a wet-nurse for the charismatic Dagmar (Dyrholm) in order to escape poverty. Annika Pham, Variety, 18 Jan. 2024
Noun
The children of the home were likely left to their own devices for days at a time — unlike the offspring of well-to-do city residents, who would have been cared for by wet nurses and tutors. Brendan Rascius, Miami Herald, 29 May 2024 Black enslaved women were often forced to be wet nurses or, after giving birth, sent back to work in the fields while someone else may or may not have cared for their child. Beth Ann Mayer, Parents, 24 Aug. 2023 Additionally, Black women were forced to work as wet nurses during slavery, taking away their personal agency and cementing their feelings of having no choice. Jazmin Towe, Parents, 29 Aug. 2023 In 1908, on the whim of the Empress Dowager dying under her cracking whitewash makeup, a beguiling 3-year-old is torn away from his mother in the dark of night and taken, with his wet nurse, to China’s most astonishing palace — the 9,999-room Forbidden City. Los Angeles Times, 25 Jan. 2023 Ina accepted their hospitality and found herself soon well employed as the village wet nurse. Ottessa Moshfegh, Harper’s Magazine , 25 May 2022 This would have been impossible without a wet nurse and a supportive husband. Claire Moran, CNN, 20 Dec. 2022 The boy’s childhood was spent first with a wet nurse and later at a number of boarding schools in Switzerland and Italy. Joan Acocella, The New Yorker, 10 Oct. 2022 One is Ina, a blind and aged wet nurse who lived in a cave for decades. New York Times, 13 June 2022

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

Word History

First Known Use

Verb

1784, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun

1620, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of wet-nurse was in 1620

Dictionary Entries Near wet-nurse

Cite this Entry

“Wet-nurse.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wet-nurse. Accessed 18 Jul. 2024.

Medical Definition

wet nurse

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

More from Merriam-Webster on wet-nurse

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