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 Long was convicted by an all-White jury in Concord of raping the widow of a Cannon Mills executive in 1976. CBS News, "Freed inmate who served almost 44 years for rape he didn't commit says $750,000 he got in compensation is far from enough," 9 Apr. 2021 Gayle Benson, 74, the widow of Tom Benson — who amassed some of his wealth in San Antonio car dealerships and banking before moving to New Orleans in the 1980s — landed at 891 on Forbes’ list with a $3.5 billion fortune. Patrick Danner, San Antonio Express-News, "Despite unprecedented rise in number of world's billionaires, San Antonio's remains the same," 7 Apr. 2021 Miriam Adelson is the widow of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Lisette Voytko, Forbes, "Here’s The Richest Billionaire In Every U.S. State 2021," 7 Apr. 2021 Letlow is the widow of Luke Letlow, who was the chief of staff for former Congressman Ralph Abraham, who represented the 5th District for three terms before retiring from Congress. David Jacobs, Washington Examiner, "Two Democratic state senators in runoff for Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District," 23 Mar. 2021 The widow of former U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, Carrie Lee Nelson, has died at 98. Drake Bentley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "The widow of former U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, Carrie Lee Nelson, has died," 17 Mar. 2021 The widow of Marvin Hagler is adamant the late boxing legend didn’t die of COVID-19 or the vaccine. Mark Heim | Mheim@al.com, al, "Marvin Hagler didn’t die from COVID vaccine, widow says: ‘Now is not the time to talk nonsense’," 16 Mar. 2021 The widow of Marvelous Marvin Hagler denounced the Internet rumors that her late husband, the former middleweight champion who died over the weekend, did not pass away due to a reaction from the coronavirus vaccine. Chris Bumbaca, USA TODAY, "Marvelous Marvin Hagler's widow says late husband did not die due to COVID-19 vaccine reaction," 16 Mar. 2021 Walton, 72, who held Forbes’s mantle as the world’s richest woman as recently as 2015, is the widow of John Walton (the middle of founder Sam Walton’s three sons), who died in 2005 when his experimental, ultralight plane crashed near Jackson, Wyo. Jason H. Harper, Robb Report, "This Mountain-Biking Mecca in Mexico Offers an Isolated Escape Into Nature," 14 Mar. 2021 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, "Older does not equal expendable. We need to act in a way that protects our elders from coronavirus," 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, "Social isolation puts seniors' health at risk. The coronavirus is cutting them off further," 19 Mar. 2020 His wife, Diane Hicks, was suddenly widowed with three children. cincinnati.com, "Death, lies and uranium: How an Ohio man’s mysterious disappearance in 1984 still haunts family, friends," 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, "Afghan Peace Plan Faces Its First Roadblock: Releasing Taliban Prisoners," 1 Mar. 2020 His mother, widowed at 43, had to get a job cleaning houses for the wealthy in Beverly Hills. Time, "74 Years Later, California Skeleton Identified as Japanese Internment Camp Detainee," 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, "Review: New City Players’ ‘Falling’ plunges into a family’s life coping with autism," 11 Oct. 2019 Making of a lady lawyer Lockwood was widowed at 22 and had a young daughter. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Belva Lockwood is the most badass American hero you don’t know," 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, "Spinster, old maid or self-partnered – why words for single women have changed through time," 2 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for widow

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for widow

Last Updated

16 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Widow.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/widow. Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for widow



English Language Learners Definition of widow

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


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

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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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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