from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A practice in certain cultures in which the husband of a woman in labor takes to his bed as though he were bearing the child.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A practice among some peoples, such as the Basques, of the husband of a woman in the last stages of pregnancy taking to bed, avoiding certain foods, or imitating other behaviours of a pregnant woman.
- n. sympathetic pregnancy: the involuntary sympathetic experience of the husband of symptoms of his wife's pregnancy, such as weight gain or morning sickness.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. A custom, among certain barbarous tribes, that when a woman gives birth to a child her husband takes to his bed, as if ill.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A custom, reported in ancient as well as modern times among some of the primitive races in all parts of the world, in accordance with which, after the birth of a child, the father takes to bed, and receives the delicacies and careful attention usually given among civilized people to the mother.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. a custom among some peoples whereby the husband of a pregnant wife is put to bed at the time of bearing the child
In the late 19th century, psychologists termed male pregnancy symptoms couvade, from the French word "couver," meaning "to incubate" or "to brood" like a mother bird.
The couvade is a practical survival from the days of women's rule.
The practice of that very curious custom, the "couvade," seems to be still in force among some of the Arizona Indian tribes, among whom so many other mysterious rites and customs prevail.
I allude to the singular custom of the "couvade," in which the father is put to bed on the birth of a child.
Those who experienced couvade were the type who clucked and cooed whenever their babies cried.
Freudians attributed couvade to "fetus envy," but recent science has found that it's not so cuckoo.
When it happens to humans, it's called 'couvade syndrome' as if it was some sort of illness.
This strange malady, resembling the _couvade_ among certain savage nations, ordinarily lasted five days and four nights, but on this occasion the Ulstermen were prostrate from the beginning of November till the beginning of February.
The grotesque comedy of the couvade, which proved a tragedy so often for the poor mother compelled by the custom to rise in her weakness and even neglect her new-born baby, in order to do double work and to tempt the appetite of her lord after his make-believe pangs of childbirth, was one sign that primitive consciousness found the new knowledge of double parentage very exciting.
The fathers stand about in manly attitudes, concealing all signs of couvade.