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

Mayor Greg Fischer and Ali’s widow, Lonnie, unveiled a new logo and designs at the airport during a ceremony Thursday. USA TODAY, "Black Hills yaks, serious senioritis on campus, Pony Express: News from around our 50 states," 10 June 2019 Miller’s widow, Teenie Rogers, did not believe Woodfox or Wallace killed her husband and advocated for their release, though some of Miller’s family members were upset with the case’s resolution. Emily Lane, nola.com, "Fox Searchlight planning film based on New Orleans man’s decades in solitary at Angola: report," 6 June 2019 During Halladay’s induction, his widow, Brandy Halladay, recalled her husband’s dream of leaving his mark on the major leagues. Jason Duaine Hahn, PEOPLE.com, "Son of Late MLB Great Roy Halladay Is Drafted by Toronto Blue Jays — His Dad's Former Team," 6 June 2019 The 10-episode series explores what happens when a widow (Applegate) befriends a kind but possibly sketchy woman in her grief support group, Judy (played by Linda Cardellini). Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Netflix’s New Show Dead to Me Is Big Little Lies–Level Addicting," 3 May 2019 Those trampled included McDougal; Clinton; Julie Hiatt Steele; Vince Foster’s grieving widow, Lisa; and the Fosters’ children. Sean Wilentz, The New York Review of Books, "Holding Starr Accountable," 18 Apr. 2019 The university had asked the court to dismiss the case, and De Los Santos' widow, Lisa, did not file documents opposing the motion. Sam Stanton And Diana Lambert, sacbee, "Judge dismisses suit that blamed UC Davis for administrator suicide after boozy retreat," 29 June 2018 Haugan's widow, Christina, accepted the award on his behalf. Charlotte Carroll, SI.com, "Watch: Surviving Humboldt Broncos Players Reunited, Honored at NHL Awards," 21 June 2018 Eversley, 77, inherited his studio’s lease from the widow of his friend, the artist John Altoon, after Altoon’s untimely death in 1969. Howie Kahn, WSJ, "Evicted From His Home, Sculptor Fred Eversley Contemplates the Future," 27 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Acela began selling mattresses downtown in 1997, twenty-five years old and newly widowed, with an infant and a two-year-old. Rowan Moore Gerety, Harper's magazine, "Downstream," 10 June 2019 Michael Skakel, a nephew of Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert F. Kennedy, was one of seven children left largely unsupervised by their father, who had been widowed after their mother had died a few years earlier from cancer. Rick Rojas And Kristin Hussey, New York Times, "Four Decades After Martha Moxley’s Murder, Her Mother Says ‘It’s Enough’," 5 May 2018 In a fictional Pakistani town, Nargis, a prominent architect, is suddenly widowed after her husband is killed in an attack. Joumana Khatib, New York Times, "New in Paperback: ‘Priestdaddy,’ ‘The Golden Legend’," 4 May 2018 In a report released on Wednesday, April 18, 2018, researchers found that melanoma patients who are married tend to be diagnosed at an earlier more treatable stage than patients who are unmarried, widowed or divorced. Washington Post, "Spouses can boost early detection for melanoma patients," 18 Apr. 2018 Sorry for Your Loss stars a magnificent Elizabeth Olsen as Leigh, a writer who was recently widowed and is trying to piece her life back together. Pilot Viruet, The Verge, "The 12 best overlooked TV shows of 2018," 14 Dec. 2018 McCain’s office said on Sunday that Larson, who died in 2014, had reserved four plots at the site — for himself, McCain and their wives, both now widows. Laurie Kellman, The Seattle Times, "McCain to be buried near best friend at US Naval Academy," 27 Aug. 2018 The pageant is for women 26 years of age and older who are single, divorced, widowed or married, PRNewswire added. Fernando Alfonso Iii, Houston Chronicle, "Former Houston attorney crowned 2018 Ms. International," 20 Mar. 2018 The most common reason [I’ve seen] for requesting a reversal is a change in relationship like divorce, or [becoming widowed]. Nina Bahadur, SELF, "Childfree by Choice: When You Don't Want Kids—But Your Doctor Won't Listen," 1 Mar. 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

21 Jun 2019

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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
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with widow

Spanish Central: Translation of widow

Nglish: Translation of widow for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of widow for Arabic Speakers

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showing courage and determination

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