\ 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

Synonyms for wet-nurse

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of wet-nurse in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Teffi focuses on the servants who made such estates possible, especially the nyanya, a recurring figure typically hired first as a wet nurse and then as the general custodian of the children. Sara Wheeler, WSJ, 23 Apr. 2021 Lina and Oviedo are happy with their twins, but Lina is struggling to produce milk, necessitating a wet nurse. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 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, 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, 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, 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, 25 Oct. 2019 Slave children could be sold away and slave wet nurses hired out, producing more income for slave owners. NBC News, 13 Aug. 2019 The goal: produce more slave children or potential wet nurses at times opportune for the owners. NBC News, 13 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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The first known use of wet-nurse was in 1620

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Dictionary Entries Near wet-nurse

wetness fraction


wet nurse

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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 9 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for wet-nurse

wet nurse


English Language Learners Definition of wet nurse

: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on wet-nurse

Nglish: Translation of wet-nurse for Spanish Speakers


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