wid·​ow | \ ˈwi-(ˌ)dō How to pronounce widow (audio) \

Definition of widow

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a woman who has lost her spouse or partner by death and usually has not remarried
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 In the books, Lady Featherington is already a widow at the start of the series. Emily Burack, Town & Country, 1 Apr. 2022 Shultz, who died Dec. 3, 2021, at age 88 after a two-decade battle with cancer, was the widow of former Secretary of State George Shultz, who died in February 2021. Tony Bravo, San Francisco Chronicle, 30 Mar. 2022 Here’s a look at the life of environmental and human rights activist Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert F. Kennedy. CNN, 24 Mar. 2022 Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, said Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, her husband's assassin, should not be released from prison. NBC News, 7 Sep. 2021 Not immediately clear Friday were the stands of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, 70, a former lieutenant governor of Maryland, and of Ethel Kennedy, RFK’s 93-year-old widow. Dom Calicchio, Fox News, 28 Aug. 2021 The Justice also moved in the same social circles as the Post’s editor, Ben Bradlee, and its owner, Katharine Graham, although Bradlee’s widow, Sally Quinn, is dubious that Douglas was close enough to Bradlee to leak the memo to him. Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, 6 May 2022 San Antonio will pay out $450,000 to the widow, mother and son of Antronie Scott, an unarmed Black man fatally shot in 2016. Caroline Tien, San Antonio Express-News, 5 May 2022 After McCollum's death, Baldwin found one of the Marine's sisters, Roice, on Instagram and sent her a $5,000 donation to go to McCollum's widow, Jiennah Crayton, and their baby, court documents read. Jen Juneau, PEOPLE.com, 5 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Elaine Lubkin, who has been widowed for 10 years, gets lonely cooped up alone in her 11th-floor apartment at Park La Brea. Los Angeles Times, 9 May 2020 Approximately 40% of Kentucky's seniors are divorced, separated or widowed, and 28% live alone, according to a 2018 report from the United Health Foundation. Bailey Loosemore, The Courier-Journal, 19 Mar. 2020 His wife, Diane Hicks, was suddenly widowed with three children. cincinnati.com, 17 Mar. 2020 Yet Afghanistan has been so scarred by violence — tens of thousands of civilians killed, a generation of women widowed, the security forces barely able to recruit enough to replace their losses — that even a vague prospect of peace was welcome. Lara Jakes, New York Times, 1 Mar. 2020 His mother, widowed at 43, had to get a job cleaning houses for the wealthy in Beverly Hills. Time, 3 Jan. 2020 Then a visit from Bill’s widowed, deeply religious mother Grammy Sue (Elizabeth Price) becomes, over the course of the 75-minute play, a catalyst for change. Christine Dolen, sun-sentinel.com, 11 Oct. 2019 Making of a lady lawyer Lockwood was widowed at 22 and had a young daughter. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, 5 Oct. 2019 My own research on the town of Southampton found that in 1698, 34.2% of women over 18 were single, another 18.5% were widowed, and less than half, or 47.3%, were married. Amy Froide, The Conversation, 2 Dec. 2019 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for widow

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

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Dictionary Entries Near widow



widow's chamber

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Last Updated

22 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Widow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/widow. Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for widow


wid·​ow | \ ˈwi-dō How to pronounce widow (audio) \

Kids Definition of widow

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a woman whose spouse is dead


widowed; widowing

Kids Definition of widow (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make a widow or widower of

More from Merriam-Webster on widow

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for widow

Nglish: Translation of widow for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of widow for Arabic Speakers


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