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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.


n, pl -wives
1. the mistress of a household
2. a woman not of gentle birth: used as a title



n., pl. -wives (-ˌwaɪvz) Archaic.
1. the mistress of a household.
2. (cap.) a title of respect for a woman not of noble birth.
References in classic literature ?
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.
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.
Two additional facts, however, distinguish her from a typical goodwife.
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.
Tom Canty's adjustment to his state dinner (Chapter 16) is juxtaposed with the Prince's serving the family of the goodwife who came to his assistance (Chapter 19).
The grave conversation, however, waxes suddenly comical at the dialogue's end, when Goodwife R.