Homemaker vs. Housewife — What's the Difference?
By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on October 26, 2023
"Homemaker" is a gender-neutral term for someone managing home tasks, regardless of marital status. "Housewife" traditionally refers to a married woman managing household duties without outside employment.
Difference Between Homemaker and Housewife
Table of Contents
Homemaker and Housewife both pertain to the management and upkeep of a household. However, they carry different nuances and connotations. A "homemaker" is a more modern and inclusive term that can be applied to anyone, regardless of gender, who is responsible for running a household. In contrast, "housewife" historically refers to a married woman, emphasizing her relationship to her spouse.
Homemaker emphasizes the role itself – the act of making a house a home, which includes tasks like cooking, cleaning, child-rearing, and managing household finances. This title is devoid of any marital or gender implications, making it applicable to a wider range of people, including single individuals, men, and those in non-traditional family setups. On the flip side, Housewife leans heavily on the notion of a woman's marital status and her traditional role within that framework.
Over the years, there has been a shift in societal perspectives on gender roles. The term Homemaker reflects this evolution, championing an understanding that homemaking is not limited to a specific gender or marital status. In contrast, the term Housewife, though still in use, carries an older connotation, often tied to traditional roles that women were expected to fulfill.
While Homemaker is a more encompassing and neutral term, Housewife can be viewed with a mix of nostalgia and stereotype, conjuring images of the past when women's roles were more rigidly defined. Nonetheless, both terms honor the crucial work done within the domestic sphere.
In conclusion, while Homemaker and Housewife share similarities in describing domestic roles, they differ in their gender and marital implications, with the former being more neutral and inclusive.
No marital status implied.
Implies being married.
Focuses on household tasks and responsibilities.
Emphasizes a woman's role in relation to her spouse.
More contemporary and inclusive.
Somewhat traditional and less frequently used.
Anyone managing a home.
Married woman, often not working outside home.
Compare with Definitions
A person who manages a household, especially as their main occupation.
Jordan became a full-time homemaker after the birth of his twins.
A woman's sewing kit or small pouch containing needles, thread, and other sewing essentials.
She pulled out her housewife to mend a small tear in her dress.
A person who prioritizes the welfare and organization of their household.
Jesse was a meticulous homemaker, always planning for the family's needs.
A woman who dedicates her time primarily to homemaking activities.
Though times have changed, Mary embraced her role as a housewife with pride.
Someone skilled in domestic tasks.
Taylor was an adept homemaker, making any space feel warm and inviting.
A married woman who manages and organizes her household, often not employed outside the home.
As a housewife in the 50s, Emily managed all home affairs.
A person, irrespective of gender, responsible for home management.
Alex, a proud homemaker, always ensured a well-kept home.
A housewife (also known as a homemaker) is a woman whose work is running or managing her family's home—caring for her children; buying, cooking, and storing food for the family; buying goods that the family needs for everyday life; housekeeping, cleaning and maintaining the home; and making, buying and/or mending clothes for the family—and who is not employed outside the home (a career woman). A housewife who has children may be called a stay-at-home mother or mom.Webster's Dictionary defines a housewife as a married woman who is in charge of her household.
Someone who creates a comfortable living environment.
Being a great homemaker, Morgan had a knack for interior design.
A married woman whose main occupation is caring for her family, managing household affairs, and doing housework
I am not just a housewife, I am an accountant, nurse, negotiator, cook, driver
The traditional division of labour between the husband as breadwinner and wife as housewife
(US) A person who maintains the administration and upkeep of his or her residence, especially one who is not employed outside the home; one who runs the household.
A small case for needles, thread, and other small sewing items.
A person, especially a woman, who manages a home.
A married woman who manages the household as her main occupation and whose spouse usually earns the family income.
One who manages a household, especially as one's main daily activity.
(hŭzĭf) A small container for needles, thread, and other sewing equipment.
(plural "housewives") A woman whose main employment is homemaking, maintaining the upkeep of her home and tending to household affairs; often, such a woman whose sole [unpaid] employment is homemaking.
(plural "housewives") The wife of a householder; the mistress of a family; the female head of a household.
(plural "housewifes") A little case or bag for materials used in sewing, and for other articles of female work.
Alternative form of housewive
The wife of a householder; the mistress of a family; the female head of a household.
He a good husband, a good housewife she.
To manage with skill and economy, as a housewife or other female manager; to economize.
Conferred those moneys on the nuns, which since they have well housewived.
A wife who who manages a household while her husband earns the family income
A woman dedicated to domestic concerns, especially in relation to her family.
Even with a part-time job, Linda considered herself primarily a housewife.
A term emphasizing the marital status of a woman in relation to her domestic role.
In earlier decades, being a housewife was often seen as a woman's primary role.
Is "housewife" an outdated term?
While still used, "housewife" has traditional connotations and is less common than "homemaker."
Can a single individual be a homemaker?
Yes, "homemaker" doesn't imply any specific marital status.
Are the roles of a homemaker and housewife the same?
Functionally, yes, but "housewife" emphasizes a woman's marital status.
Was "housewife" historically the preferred term?
Historically, "housewife" was more common, reflecting traditional gender roles.
Is "homemaker" only about cleaning and cooking?
No, it encompasses all tasks and responsibilities of running a household.
Can someone be a homemaker and have a career?
Absolutely. Many balance household management with professional obligations.
Is "homemaker" more politically correct than "housewife"?
"Homemaker" is more neutral and inclusive, aligning with modern sensibilities.
Can a man be a homemaker?
Yes, a man can be a homemaker. The term is gender-neutral.
Can a person working full-time be a homemaker?
Yes, a person can manage household tasks regardless of outside employment.
Are there other terms similar to "housewife"?
"Stay-at-home mom" or "domestic engineer" are similar but have different nuances.
How has the perception of "housewife" changed over time?
It has evolved from a standard role to a choice among various life paths.
Is a "househusband" the male equivalent of a "housewife"?
Yes, but it's less commonly used. "Homemaker" is a more neutral term.
Do homemakers have professional rights or benefits?
Typically, homemaking isn't legally recognized as employment, so standard work benefits don't apply.
Can "housewife" refer to anything other than a person?
Yes, it can also mean a sewing kit, but this usage is less common.
Does "housewife" imply not working outside the home?
Historically, yes, but in modern usage, it's not strictly the case.
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Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.