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

The widow of Ted Sophocleus, a longtime Anne Arundel County delegate who died last month, has been nominated to serve out the remainder of his term, the county’s Democratic Central Committee announced Tuesday. Colin Campbell, baltimoresun.com, "Ted Sophocleus' widow nominated to serve rest of his term," 3 July 2018 Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence for a prior murder. Special To The Oregonian, OregonLive.com, "In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning," 5 May 2018 The doctor was actually a medical student, the office visit was staged and the widow was a volunteer standardized patient, or someone who has been trained to portray, in a consistent manner, a patient in a medical situation. Julie Washington, cleveland.com, "Medical students practice bedside manner at Northeast Ohio Medical University's training center," 31 Jan. 2018 Wilson and the president have never been on good terms, but that rift grew wider when the president reportedly told the widow of Sgt. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "A Lists of Protests by Congress Members Who Think the State of the Union Is Trash," 30 Jan. 2018 Leinonen attended the trial of Noor Salman, Mateen's widow, in hopes of learning new information about her son's death, but her questions about the bullets that killed her son weren't brought up during the proceedings. Shannon Butler And Jason Kelly, ajc, "Pulse shooting victim's mother pressing for FBI ballistics report," 13 July 2018 In December the authorities allowed the widow to visit her younger brother. The Economist, "China frees the widow of a Nobel peace-prize winner," 11 July 2018 In some cases, a brown widow bite can be more severe than that of a black widow. Madeline Farber, Fox News, "Brown recluse, black widow and other dangerous spiders found in the US," 10 July 2018 Typical clients are widows 80 and older; more than 800 clients are veterans. Vincent T. Davis, San Antonio Express-News, "Isolated seniors receive help from Meals on Wheels San Antonio," 6 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Another group member, Dan Pelletier, has been widowed for eight years, after his wife Sarah lost her battle with colon cancer. Michelle Boudin, PEOPLE.com, "Group of Widowed Fathers Have Banded Together in the Wake of Their Wives' Deaths: 'They Saved Me'," 13 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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Phrases Related to widow

be widowed

football/golf widow

Statistics for widow

Last Updated

30 Aug 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).


to make amends

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