from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A man who knows of and tolerates his wife's infidelity.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To make a wittol, or contented cuckold, of.
  • noun A man who knows his wife's infidelity and submits to it; a submissive cuckold.
  • noun A dialectal reduction of whitetail.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Zoöl.), Prov. Eng. The wheatear.
  • noun obsolete A man who knows his wife's infidelity and submits to it; a tame cuckold; -- so called because the cuckoo lays its eggs in the wittol's nest.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun archaic A man who knows or even condones his wife's enjoyment of coitus with another man or men; a contented cuckold.
  • noun UK, dialect, obsolete A bird, the wheatear.

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

  • noun an archaic term for a cuckold who knows about his wife's infidelity but tolerates it


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

[Middle English wetewold : weten, to know (from Old English witan; see wit) + (coke)wold, cuckold; see cuckold.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English witewold; likely a blend of witen ("to know") + cockewold ("cuckold"), equivalent to wit +‎ cuckold



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  • I am sorry you sped so ill-favouredly, exclaimed Don Balthazar, who was chuckling with inward satisfaction at my disappointment. What a mechanical rogue of a husband! I would advise you to shew no mercy to the wittol.

    - Lesage, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, tr. Smollett, bk 5 ch. 1

    September 19, 2008

  • (n): the name of the bird whose nest the cuckoo uses. Cf. witwall, a species of European woodpecker. This avian behaviour colorfully explains the archaic use of the word to mean cuckold.

    January 18, 2009

  • underarms were awash with rage as Planmantee went on smoothly, slickly, in an even tone, as though he were oiling a road, giving me the business until at last I rose, clearing my throat the way you push back a reluctant chair, trying to believe he was behaving the way he was because he'd been made a cuckold, eventually a wittol, by his wife, but failing to concentrate enough on that happy thought to alleviate my misery; and then saying, when my choked throat had cleared, "Planny, I suggest you stick all that smug self-regarding shit in your spleuchan now and spend it later," closing the door so softly on that last word that the door's click and "later's" concluding "-err" said in unison the same thing.

    - William Gass, The Tunnel

    June 5, 2009

  • What a sentence. I now feel as if I've been strangled by a psychobunyip and thrown down two flights of sandpaper stairs.

    June 5, 2009

  • That was only about 20% of the sentence, so actually you only feel strangled by 20% of a psychobunyip and thrown down 0.4 flights of sandpaper stairs.

    June 5, 2009

  • among the adult students yesterday, one mentioned talking to her husband about regretting not sowing her wild oats (having found The One quite early), and he said he wouldn't mind at all, if only she'd keep it a secret.

    so is he having an affair already or what? methinks that's a huge part of the wittol state.

    June 5, 2009

  • "Whereupon Themistocles decides to put his oar in, he turns toward Meussieu Pic and says, point-blank:

    'You're a wit, old Pic.'

    'Me, a wittol!' (he suffocates). 'But Meussieu I won't allow you to insult me like that! To say nothing of my wife! I respect the French army, Meussieu; and you, you ought to respect the sanctity of the French family. Me, a wittol, ho! At my age, to be insulted by a, by a...Ho!'

    He gets up and starts waving his arms about wildly. The ladies calm him down. Madame Pic looks puzzled; fortunately, she doesn't know what a wittol is. Themistocles, alarmed at the effect he has produced, tries to justify himself.

    'But it was a pun!'"

    Witch Grass by Raymond Queneau, translated by Barbara Wright, p 197 of the NYRB paperback

    November 7, 2010

  • (noun) - A husband who knows of and endures his wife's unfaithfulness; a contented cuckold. From woodwale, a bird whose nest is invaded by the cuckoo, and so has the offspring of another palmed off on it for its own. --John Farmer's Slang and Its Analogues, 1890-1904

    January 27, 2018