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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 ?
She turned her back, throwing into the basin a silver florin, which rang among the liards, and made the poor goodwives of the chapel of Etienne Haudry open their eyes.
"Goodwives," said a hard-featured dame of fifty, "I'll tell ye a piece of my mind.
And after a few return trips [...] the farmfolk and country dwellers would know me well, the goodwives leaving thick winter woollies by the side of the road, flasks of oxtail soup under hedges.
Because they could fulfill their duties as both Christians and goodwives without writing, such education was considered superfluous, especially for women in lower socioeconomic statuses (Hall 32).
* JoyRide Cycle Studio leased 4,207 s/f of retail space at Goodwives Shopping Center in Darien.
For several matronly "goodwives" resentful of this leniency, see 51-52.
In this sense, she shares the "fear" that Susan Gubar has attributed to Chaucer's Criseyde, that "she will be 'rolled on many a tongue!'" (1981, 245), and as she is, most explicitly, by the gossipy goodwives waiting at the prison door.
Literate clergymen dominate the more detailed stories, but Moore also offers tantalizing glimpses of the motivations of merchants, artisans, yeomen, and goodwives.
The members seated at the "Laundry Maids' Table" were, besides Grace Robinson, Mrs Judith and Mrs Grace Simpton, obviously two gentlewomen overseeing the laundry; Penelope Tutty, the maid of Margaret Sackville, Lady Anne's eldest daughter; Anne Mills, the dairymaid; the two goodwives Burton and Small; William Lewis, porter; and what must have been the four fellow laundresses of Grace Robinson: Prudence Butcher, Anne Howse, Faith Husband, and Elinor Thompson.
GOOD WIVES Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750 (1982): In this thoughtprovoking book, Ulrich breathes new life into the forgotten lives of the "goodwives" of Colonial America--their beliefs and concerns, their hopes and fears, their pleasures and hardships, and their never-ending duty to church, home, husband, and children.
The systematic examination of the learned and humanistic Orbis serves to contrast it all the more sharply with the Primer, a "distinctly provincial, doctrinaire, evangelical" textbook with the pedestrian mission of teaching basic literacy to "generations of shopkeepers and goodwives." Grain believes the Primer to be a faithful representation of "American Puritanism" after the Half-Way Covenant but d oes not say why; nor does she address the political crises surrounding the Primer's production.
We began with Kathleen Brown's Goodwives, Nasty Wenches and Anxious Patriarchs (University of North Carolina Press, 1996), which definitively establishes the centrality of race and gender to the history of early colonial Virginia.