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Wife vs. Wive — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on September 26, 2023
"Wife" is a noun referring to a married woman. "Wive" is a verb meaning to marry a woman or take a woman as a wife.
Wife vs. Wive — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Wife and Wive

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Key Differences

"Wife" and "Wive" are terms that are closely related in terms of their connection to marital relationships, but they belong to different grammatical categories and have distinct uses. "Wife" is a noun, and it specifically denotes a woman who is married. The term encapsulates the societal and relational role that a woman assumes upon entering a marital bond. For instance, when a man refers to his wife, he's mentioning the woman he's married to.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 26, 2023
On the other hand, "Wive" operates as a verb. It carries the action of marrying a woman or taking a woman as a wife. Historically, the term was more commonly utilized, particularly in contexts where a man would "wive" a woman, essentially marrying her. The usage of "Wive" in modern English is somewhat archaic, and it's less commonly encountered than its noun counterpart, "Wife."
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 26, 2023
Another significant distinction between "Wife" and "Wive" is the frequency of their application. "Wife" is a prevalent term in everyday language, signifying a married woman, whereas "Wive" is rarer and might be found in older literary works or in poetic contexts.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 26, 2023
In summary, while both "Wife" and "Wive" pertain to marriage and the role of a woman within it, "Wife" acts as a noun designating a married woman, and "Wive" functions as a verb implying the act of marrying a woman.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 26, 2023

Comparison Chart

Part of Speech

Noun
Verb
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Sep 26, 2023
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Meaning

A married woman
To marry or take as a wife
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 26, 2023

Usage

Common in everyday language
Less common, somewhat archaic
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Sep 26, 2023

Example

"He introduced his wife."
"He decided to wive her."
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Sep 26, 2023

Related Forms

Wives (plural)
Wives (third-person singular present)
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Sep 26, 2023

Compare with Definitions

Wife

The female spouse.
She became his wife in a beautiful ceremony.
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Sep 26, 2023

Wive

To bestow in marriage.
The noble planned to wive his daughter to the knight.
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Wife

A lady married to a particular man.
The businessman's wife accompanied him.
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Sep 26, 2023

Wive

To take a female as a wife.
The king decided to wive again.
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Sep 26, 2023

Wife

A woman bound in wedlock.
The man and his wife have two children.
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Sep 26, 2023

Wive

To provide with a wife.
The story tells of a prince who is wived through a magical spell.
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Sep 26, 2023

Wife

A wife is a woman in a marriage. A woman who has separated from her partner continues to be a wife until the marriage legally dissolves with a divorce judgement.
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Aug 20, 2018

Wive

To marry (a woman).
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Wife

A woman joined to another person in marriage; a female spouse.
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Aug 20, 2018

Wive

To provide a wife for.
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Aug 20, 2018

Wife

A married woman, especially in relation to her spouse.
The Fisherman and His Wife
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Aug 20, 2018

Wive

To marry a woman.
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Aug 20, 2018

Wife

The female of a pair of mated animals.
A new wife for the gander is introduced into the pen.
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Aug 20, 2018

Wive

(ambitransitive) To marry (a woman).
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Wife

(Scotland) woman.
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Wive

(transitive) To provide (someone) with a wife.
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Aug 20, 2018

Wife

To marry (a woman)
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Aug 20, 2018

Wive

To marry, as a man; to take a wife.
Wherefore we pray you hastily to wive.
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Aug 20, 2018

Wife

A woman; an adult female; - now used in literature only in certain compounds and phrases, as alewife, fishwife, goodwife, and the like.
On the green he saw sitting a wife.
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Aug 20, 2018

Wive

To match to a wife; to provide with a wife.
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Aug 20, 2018

Wife

The lawful consort of a man; a woman who is united to a man in wedlock; a woman who has a husband; a married woman; - correlative of husband.
Let every one you . . . so love his wife even as himself, and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
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Aug 20, 2018

Wive

To take for a wife; to marry.
I have wived his sister.
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Aug 20, 2018

Wife

A married woman; a man's partner in marriage
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Aug 20, 2018

Wive

Take (someone) as a wife
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Aug 20, 2018

Wife

A woman in a marital relationship.
My wife and I celebrated our tenth anniversary.
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Sep 26, 2023

Wive

Marry a woman, take a wife
Tayyaba Rehman
Aug 20, 2018

Wife

A female partner in a marriage.
His wife is a renowned surgeon.
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Sep 26, 2023

Wive

Provide with a wife; marry (someone) to a wife
Tayyaba Rehman
Aug 20, 2018

Wive

To enter into marriage as the husband.
He will wive next spring.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 26, 2023

Common Curiosities

Can "Wife" indicate any married woman?

Yes, "Wife" refers to a woman who is married.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 26, 2023

Is "Wife" a noun or a verb?

"Wife" is a noun.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 26, 2023

Would it be correct to say "He wived her last summer"?

Yes, it means he married her last summer, though the phrasing is old-fashioned.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 26, 2023

Is the word "Wive" commonly used today?

"Wive" is less common and can be considered somewhat archaic.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 26, 2023

Can "Wive" be used to describe a man marrying a woman?

Yes, "Wive" means to marry a woman.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 26, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
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.

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