\ 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

breast-feed, nurse, suckle

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Examples of wet-nurse in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In the early twentieth century, nursing one's own baby was often a barometer of class: The poor did; the wealthy demurred, turning instead to wet nurses and manufactured infant food. Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "The Breastfeeding Movement Is Experiencing a Tech Revolution—Here's How It's Helping New Moms," 11 Sep. 2018 Since they were believed to impart their character through their milk, wet nurses had to demonstrate good morals, intelligence, and other desirable attributes. Mark Kurlansky, Time, "Why We've Been Fighting About Milk for 10,000 Years," 7 May 2018 Many societies had legal codes with various provisions for the comportment of wet nurses. Mark Kurlansky, Time, "Why We've Been Fighting About Milk for 10,000 Years," 7 May 2018 Philippa was a one-time wet nurse who, after a meteoric rise in the royal court, had become something akin to a foster mother to Joanna and Maria. Anne Thériault, Longreads, "Queens of Infamy: Joanna of Naples," 3 July 2018 For centuries, a wet nurse was the solution of choice for the affluent. Elaine Khosrova, WSJ, "‘Milk!’ Review: Food History Worth Nursing," 7 May 2018 The ancient Greeks strongly believed that a wet nurse should be Greek. Mark Kurlansky, Time, "Why We've Been Fighting About Milk for 10,000 Years," 7 May 2018 The Young Man and Woman are chased away by degenerate sinners: a prostitute, a knight, a wet nurse, a priest, and God himself. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Mother!'s Theater of Cruelty," 24 Sep. 2017

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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Statistics for wet-nurse

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for wet-nurse

The first known use of wet-nurse was in 1620

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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

Comments on wet-nurse

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behavior toward others

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