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.
Difference Between Wife and Wive
Table of Contents
"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.
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."
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.
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.
Part of Speech
A married woman
To marry or take as a wife
Common in everyday language
Less common, somewhat archaic
"He introduced his wife."
"He decided to wive her."
Wives (third-person singular present)
Compare with Definitions
The female spouse.
She became his wife in a beautiful ceremony.
To bestow in marriage.
The noble planned to wive his daughter to the knight.
A lady married to a particular man.
The businessman's wife accompanied him.
To take a female as a wife.
The king decided to wive again.
A woman bound in wedlock.
The man and his wife have two children.
To provide with a wife.
The story tells of a prince who is wived through a magical spell.
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.
To marry (a woman).
A woman joined to another person in marriage; a female spouse.
To provide a wife for.
A married woman, especially in relation to her spouse.
The Fisherman and His Wife
To marry a woman.
The female of a pair of mated animals.
A new wife for the gander is introduced into the pen.
(ambitransitive) To marry (a woman).
(transitive) To provide (someone) with a wife.
To marry (a woman)
To marry, as a man; to take a wife.
Wherefore we pray you hastily to wive.
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.
To match to a wife; to provide with a 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.
To take for a wife; to marry.
I have wived his sister.
A married woman; a man's partner in marriage
Take (someone) as a wife
A woman in a marital relationship.
My wife and I celebrated our tenth anniversary.
Marry a woman, take a wife
A female partner in a marriage.
His wife is a renowned surgeon.
Provide with a wife; marry (someone) to a wife
To enter into marriage as the husband.
He will wive next spring.
Can "Wife" indicate any married woman?
Yes, "Wife" refers to a woman who is married.
Is "Wife" a noun or a verb?
"Wife" is a noun.
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.
Is the word "Wive" commonly used today?
"Wive" is less common and can be considered somewhat archaic.
Can "Wive" be used to describe a man marrying a woman?
Yes, "Wive" means to marry a woman.
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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.