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n. pl. good·wives (-wīvz′) Archaic
1. The female head of a household.
2. Goodwife Used formerly as a courtesy title before the surname of a married woman not of noble birth.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


n, pl -wives
1. the mistress of a household
2. a woman not of gentle birth: used as a title
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014



n., pl. -wives (-ˌwaɪvz) Archaic.
1. the mistress of a household.
2. (cap.) a title of respect for a woman not of noble birth.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
"Mercy on us, goodwife" exclaimed a man in the crowd, "is there no virtue in woman, save what springs from a wholesome fear of the gallows?
He's expected at night, and the pasty's made hot, They broach the brown ale, and they fill the black pot, And the goodwife would wish the goodman in the mire, Ere he lack'd a soft pillow, the Barefooted Friar.
Then all began to stare and wonder and crowd around, laughing, for never was such selling heard of in all Nottingham Town; but when they came to buy they found it as he had said, for he gave goodwife or dame as much meat for one penny as they could buy elsewhere for three, and when a widow or a poor woman came to him, he gave her flesh for nothing; but when a merry lass came and gave him a kiss, he charged not one penny for his meat; and many such came to his stall, for his eyes were as blue as the skies of June, and he laughed merrily, giving to each full measure.
Chapter 1 unearths the action-adventure heroine as she appears in Indian captivity narratives, whether factual (the Puritan goodwife Hannah Dustan), fictional (the unnamed protagonist of the Panther captivity), or somewhere in between (the "fierce woman of Crab Orchard" [43] in early histories of Daniel Boone).
Clearly there were witch hunts, with all the nauseating details which have inspired writers ever since, but for many Elizabethans a visit to the goodwife in the village and the employment of one of her potions to cure a sick cow or a malingering illness, was what one did and if you were sensible about it no one asked questions.
Analyzing the indictments and verdicts of Mary "Goodwife" Mendame and Anne Linceford, Berson challenges the long-standing belief that Mendame is the intended source for Hester Prynne.
Two additional facts, however, distinguish her from a typical goodwife. The first is that her marriage ended in divorce, and the second is that she is the paternal grandmother of the great Puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards.
Biscuit Barrel, PS15, Goodwife Think Pink at Debenhams Part of Debenhams' Think Pink range with a 25% charity donation, split 45% to Breakthrough Breast Cancer, 45% to Breast Cancer Campaign and 10% to Pink Ribbon Foundation
We really now can have a Mr Goodwife and change some sayings.
What kept me immobile was the worrying phrase that repeated itself over and over in my head: 'Drinking in the last-chance saloon' which alternated with the Proverbial encouragement, 'Find a wife, find a good thing' (which an exegete no less than Edgar Allan Poe thought originally was 'Find a goodwife, find a good thing').
They closed their eyes as the goodwife encircled them.
(14) Six manuscripts preserve two versions of What the Goodwife Taught Her Daughter, (15) a typical example of this gender-oriented advice that revolved around the lifestyle and expectations of a medieval urban wife.