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

Beginning in 1988, Towers began selling more than $270 million worth of promissory notes, offering returns of 12 to 16 percent and marketing them largely to people of modest means, among them widows, retirees and people with disabilities. Author: Marc Fisher, Jonathan O'connell, Anchorage Daily News, "For 30 years, prosecutors and victims tried to hold Jeffrey Epstein to account. At every turn, he slipped away.," 10 Aug. 2019 Police and paramedics swarmed the usually quiet, affluent Massachusetts beach town Thursday after being called to a home owned by Robert F. Kennedy's widow, Ethel Kennedy. CBS News, "RFK granddaughter wrote moving essay about her struggle with depression," 2 Aug. 2019 Steve Jobs' widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, purchased a majority stake in The Atlantic through her foundation, The Emerson Collective, from David Bradley, who bought the magazine for $10 million in 1999. Heidi Legg For Cnn Business Perspectives, CNN, "Billionaires are saving journalism. Yes, that's right," 9 July 2019 Michalski's widow, Susan, was unavailable for an interview for this story. Erik S. Hanley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Here's how local electricians gave back to the family of fallen Milwaukee Police Officer Michael Michalski," 3 July 2019 And as the young men carefully folded the flag and then handed it to the widow, the meaning of this flag became clear to me. Ana Campoy, Quartz, "Ten ways of looking at the American flag, from around the globe," 3 July 2019 The leadership of the paper passed from Maag to his nephew, William J. Brown, then in 1981 to Brown’s widow, Betty J. H. Brown Jagnow, who remains publisher and president. Jordyn Grzelewski, cleveland.com, "The Vindicator, Youngstown’s daily newspaper, will close after 150 years," 28 June 2019 Bacon’s widow, Grace Keller, struggled with the loss of her husband. Wendy Grossman Kantor, EW.com, "Who killed the Masked Marvel?," 27 June 2019 The design was never intuitive, to use a term often applied to it: The metaphor of folders, files, and a desktop, operated via overlapping widows, still required considerable new knowledge, even if that knowledge could be learned quickly. Ian Bogost, The Atlantic, "I Wrote This on a 30-Year-Old Computer," 11 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

There Juana was briefly reunited with her sister, Catherine, who by then had been widowed by Prince Arthur, though not yet married to Henry VIII. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "What Was Catherine of Aragon's Sister, Juana la Loca, Really Like?," 10 June 2019 Barbara married George Cornelius in 2000 and was widowed in 2005. sun-sentinel.com, "Deaths in South Florida: 7/14," 14 July 2019 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

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

16 Aug 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

Comments on widow

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