from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A woman who is divorced or separated from her husband.
  • n. A woman whose husband is temporarily absent.
  • n. An abandoned mistress.
  • n. The mother of a child born out of wedlock.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A woman separated from her husband by abandonment or prolonged absence; a woman living apart from her husband.
  • n. See under Grass.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An unmarried woman who has had a child.
  • n. A wife temporarily separated from her husband, as while he is traveling or residing at a distance on account of business: also often applied to a divorced woman, or to a wife who has been abandoned by her husband.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a divorced woman or a woman who is separated from her husband


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Perhaps in allusion to a bed of grass or hay.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From grass + widow. Compare Dutch grasweduwe, Swedish gräsänka.


    Sorry, no example sentences found.


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Anatoly Liberman argues persuasively that "grace widow" should be dismissed as folk etymology. He has a interesting discussion of the history of the term grass widow at

    June 2, 2015

  • Generally taken to mean a woman who is temporarily separated from her husband (e.g. because of a work or military assignment). Thus, allegedly, a widow by grace or favour, not by necessity (as in the cause of death).

    Several etymologies appear to be out there, none of them altogether convincing.

    October 27, 2007