wid·​ow | \ˈwi-(ˌ)dō \

Definition of widow 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a woman who has lost her spouse or partner by death and usually has not remarried

b : grass widow sense 2

c : a woman whose spouse or partner leaves her alone or ignores her frequently or for long periods to engage in a usually specified activity a golf widow a video game widow

2 : an extra hand or part of a hand of cards dealt face down and usually placed at the disposal of the highest bidder

3 : a single usually short last line (as of a paragraph) separated from its related text and appearing at the top of a printed page or column


widowed; widowing; widows

Definition of widow (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to cause to become a widow or widower

2 obsolete : to survive as the widow of

3 : to deprive of something greatly valued or needed

Examples of widow in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Alice Sophocleus is the second widow this year to be nominated to serve out her husband’s term in the General Assembly. Colin Campbell, baltimoresun.com, "Ted Sophocleus' widow nominated to serve rest of his term," 3 July 2018 More: Ex-Fiat Chrysler exec and widow of UAW official to plead guilty in scandal After collecting $273.6 million in receipts in 2017, the UAW had nearly $1.6 million left in the bank at the end of the year. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "UAW delegates vote to fuel strike fund but set limits on dues," 12 June 2018 His widow said Rob was her best friend and a loving, generous partner. Fox News, "The Latest: US flags at half-staff for newspaper victims," 3 July 2018 His widow, displaying great strength along with the couple's three children, said Rob was her best friend and a loving, generous partner. David Mcfadden, Anchorage Daily News, "Suspect wrote he aimed to kill everyone at Maryland newsroom," 3 July 2018 More than two years after a UC Davis administrator killed himself in the wake of an alcohol-fueled university retreat, a federal lawsuit filed by his widow has been dismissed by a judge in Sacramento. Sam Stanton And Diana Lambert, sacbee, "Judge dismisses suit that blamed UC Davis for administrator suicide after boozy retreat," 29 June 2018 Though Theodor Geisel died in 1991, his widow, the philanthropist Audrey Geisel — who still lives in town — keeps his legacy alive and protected. James Hebert, sandiegouniontribune.com, "'The Lorax' arrives in the land of Seuss for musical adaptation's U.S. premiere at Old Globe Theatre," 29 June 2018 Christine Valada, a family friend, tweeted about his death at the behest of his widow, Susan. Robert Jablon, USA TODAY, "'Star Trek' scriptwriter Harlan Ellison, master of sci-fi literature, dies at 84," 28 June 2018 Looking further south for the true origins of the holiday, Gardiner and Bellware dug up newspaper clips that suggest that a widow in Columbus, Ga., may have first had the idea. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, "Lots of Places Claim to Be the Birthplace of Memorial Day. Here's the Truth, According to an Expert," 25 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Godless’’ embraces the tropes of both a rollicking ’50s western and the darkly philosophical anti-westerns of the late ’60s and early ’70s, but with the feminist twist of an 1880s mining town run entirely by women widowed by a silver-mine collapse. Scott Tobias, BostonGlobe.com, "How TV has brought the western into the 21st century," 5 July 2018 When Coley’s widowed mother became ill in 2004, Mikali was a caregiver in her final years. Pam Kragen, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Win or lose, baseball's just as sweet for exonerated man," 11 July 2018 People who were divorced had about a 35% higher risk of developing heart disease, and people who were widowed had a 16% higher risk of experiencing a stroke. Alexandra Sifferlin, Time, "How Marriage Can Actually Protect Your Heart Health," 19 June 2018 The following year, Thomas Lincoln went back to his home town, where an old crush was recently widowed. Gillian Brockell, Washington Post, "Abraham Lincoln’s ‘angel mother’ and the second ‘mama’ who outlived him," 12 May 2018 The majority of displaced female Colombians in Bogota have been widowed by the conflict, and struggle to enter the labor market. Lucy Sherriff/bogota, Time, "Colombia Was Just Starting to Deliver Justice to Women. Will a New President Get in the Way?," 19 June 2018 Eleanor was widowed at age 47, when her husband, William Dolan, Sr., died. courant.com, "Eleanor Dolan," 15 May 2018 In 2009, the then-89-year-old, twice-widowed, retired radio engineer won 15 gold and two silver medals in his age group at the combined Keystone Games and Senior Olympics. Frank Fitzpatrick, Philly.com, "97-year-old returns to Franklin Field as a Penn Relays runner," 27 Apr. 2018 Back then, Grace, who was jobless and recently widowed, had received 20 cows through the program. refinery29.com, "OITNB's Uzo Aduba Named First-Ever Heifer International Ambassador To Africa," 19 June 2018

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


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for widow


Middle English widewe, from Old English wuduwe; akin to Old High German wituwa widow, Latin vidua, Sanskrit vidhavā, Latin -videre to separate

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Statistics for widow

Last Updated

8 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for widow

The first known use of widow was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for widow



English Language Learners Definition of widow

: a woman whose husband has died

: a woman whose husband often leaves her alone while he plays sports or is involved in other activities


wid·​ow | \ˈwi-dō \

Kids Definition of widow

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a woman whose husband is dead


widowed; widowing

Kids Definition of widow (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make a widow or widower of

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Comments on widow

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


a private place of worship

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