Woman same as wife?

papillon

Senior Member
Russian (Ukraine)
In many languages the words for "woman" and "wife" are the same. Femme means both in French and so does mujer in spanish.
On the other hand, Russian has two related, but different word: жена (jena) is wife and женщина (jenshina) is woman. In Ukrainian, they are also different, жiнка (jinka) is woman and дружина (drujina) is wife.

What is the situation in your language? Are they the same word? Is it the same for "man" and "husband"? If not, why do you think that is?

Thanks!
 
  • justjukka

    Senior Member
    USA
    English - USA
    In English, woman is not the same as wife. I would think that it would be so in many languages because of a woman's historical status, that being what she was meant for.

    Are there any languages where man and husband are the same word?
     

    fenixpollo

    moderator
    American English
    papillon said:
    In many languages the words for "woman" and "wife" are the same. Femme means both in French and so does mujer in spanish.
    While you are correct that "mujer" is used to mean both "wife" and "woman" in Spain, (a) that is not the case in other Spanish-speaking regions, and (b) to be more precise, the Spanish language has two separate words to mean "wife" (esposa) and "woman" (mujer).
     

    papillon

    Senior Member
    Russian (Ukraine)
    danielfranco said:
    It's not like that in Spanish, either. "Mujer" and "esposa" are not the same thing. However, your wife must be a woman!
    Is this right? I know "esposa" means "spouse" but in a casual conversation would you say "mi esposa es guapa" or "mi mujer es guapa?"

    I am asking because I am curious. I was tought that mujer can mean wife as in "tomar por mujer" -- take as (or to be) a wife.
    Edit: OK, now I saw Fenixpollo's post. I get it now. It's true, my knowledge comes from mostly from Spaniards.
     

    fenixpollo

    moderator
    American English
    I would never refer to my wife as "mi mujer". She would definitely slap me if I said it in front of her. :D

    As far as I know, this custom is unique to Spain. Everywhere else, the dictionary is used. ;)
     

    modus.irrealis

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    Rozax said:
    In English, woman is not the same as wife.
    Although it's interesting that woman comes from Old English "wifmann", and "wif" used to mean woman (and wife). So I guess English used to use the same word, and then created a word meaning "woman man" or maybe "woman human being" (I guess to distinguish from all those non-human women around back in the day). I don't know if Old English used "mann" for husband though.

    Are there any languages where man and husband are the same word?
    In Greek άντρας (andras) means man and can also mean husband, and similarly γυναίκα (yineka) means woman and also wife.

    As for why, I think I'd agree with Rozax to a point, but we do use "my woman" and "my man" for significant others so I can also see a development from there to meaning wife and husband.
     

    papillon

    Senior Member
    Russian (Ukraine)
    fenixpollo said:
    I would never refer to my wife as "mi mujer". She would definitely slap me if I said it in front of her. :D
    I get it, I guess this would be like saying "my woman" in English. This always annoyed me. Well, I learned something new today, I wasn't aware of the regional differences in this case. Thanks!
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    Rozax said:
    In English, woman is not the same as wife. I would think that it would be so in many languages because of a woman's historical status, that being what she was meant for.

    Are there any languages where man and husband are the same word?

    Certainly.
    In German, the word for marriage is Ehe, so the full form for husband is Ehemann, and the full form for wife is Ehefrau, but in normal speech woman/wife = Frau, and man/husband is Mann.
    A German woman refers to her husband as Mein Mann, and a German man refers to his wife as Meine Frau.

    In old English, wife meant woman, rather than married woman.
    This meaning is preserved in "old wives' tales", "midwife" and "fishwife".

    There is a well-known Country and Western song "Stand by your man", so even in English it works, sometimes.
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    By the way, just adding to modus.irrealis' post, the fact that the same word is informally used for both man/husband and woman/wife, doesn't mean that we don't have a seperate way to refer (even in informal conversations) to them.
    It will be a somewhat lengthy post however to explain things away :)
     

    rsweet

    Senior Member
    English, North America
    In light of this discussion, it's interesting to note that marriage vows in the United States used to end with the words, "I now pronounce you man and wife." This has now changed in most ceremonies to a more equitable, "I now pronounce you husband and wife."
     

    Nineu

    Member
    Euskal Herria / Basque Country
    Rozax said:
    In English, woman is not the same as wife. I would think that it would be so in many languages because of a woman's historical status, that being what she was meant for.

    Are there any languages where man and husband are the same word?

    In basque:
    Woman is "andrea" or "emakumea" and wife is "emaztea".
    Man is "gizona" and husband is "senarra".

    But it's usual to say "andrea" (woman) to refer to a wife and "gizona" (man) to refer to a husband. Those words have the two meanings.
     

    Fernando

    Senior Member
    Spain, Spanish
    I fully agree with Fenixpollo comments.

    About "husband" we have a separate word, as said before (marido).

    Anyhow, in some places the word the woman will say to refer her husband/boyfriend is "mi hombre" (my man). This use is considered vulgar.
     

    dahut

    Senior Member
    Europe - Spanish
    In Norwegian
    woman = kvinne / dame
    man = mann
    wife = kona
    husband = mann

    Whether it exist or not an specific word for "husband", it might be possible (wait for the native Norwegians), but I never heard it though.

    In Català/Valencià
    woman = dona
    man = home
    wife = esposa-muller (to refer to a "wife" dona is used more often)
    husband = espòs/espós-marit (to refer to a "husband" home is the one used)
     

    moura

    Senior Member
    Portuguese Portugal
    fenixpollo said:
    As far as I know, this custom is unique to Spain. Everywhere else, the dictionary is used. ;)

    In Portugal "mulher" ("mujer" in Spain) is also the more correct way to refer someone's wife. We have the word "esposa" meaning "spouse", but it is not very correct someone saying "I am the esposa of someone", or "Who is she? She is the esposa of the manager".

    As to man, the correct word is "marido", the male word of "spouse". People only say "My homem (man)" in informal or jocose ways.
     

    anthodocheio

    Senior Member
    ireney said:
    By the way, just adding to modus.irrealis' post, the fact that the same word is informally used for both man/husband and woman/wife, doesn't mean that we don't have a seperate way to refer (even in informal conversations) to them.
    It will be a somewhat lengthy post however to explain things away :)

    I would say in short that άντρας (man) and γυναίκα (woman) are generaly used as husband and wife, and for me sounds very formal the word σύζυγος which is for both husband and wife.
     

    Dr. Quizá

    Senior Member
    Spain - Western Andalusian Spanish.
    fenixpollo said:
    I would never refer to my wife as "mi mujer". She would definitely slap me if I said it in front of her. :D

    As far as I know, this custom is unique to Spain. Everywhere else, the dictionary is used. ;)

    I would never refer to my wife as "mi esposa" because that word also means "hadcuffs" and sounds like if she were a punishment :D
     

    Chaska Ñawi

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    In the places I lived in Bolivia and Mexico, you were considered pretentious if you used espos@. A husband was a marido and a wife was a mujer. Perhaps it has something to do with formal education?

    P.S. After some consideration, I'm moving this thread from Cultura to Other Languages.
     

    Yeu

    Senior Member
    Español (México)
    In Spanish some people call "mi mujer" o "mi hombre" to their partner, because they live together, have children but it doesn't mean they are married.
     

    robbie_SWE

    Senior Member
    Trilingual: Swedish, Romanian & English
    Romanian:

    femeie = woman
    sotie/muiere = wife

    barbat = man
    sot = husband

    BUT in Romanian you can say "barbatul meu" meaning "my husband".

    :) robbie
     

    linguist786

    Senior Member
    English, Gujarati & Urdu
    Hindi:

    Woman = औरत (Aurat)
    Wife = पत्नी (Patni)
    Man = आदमी (Aadmee)
    Husband = पति (Pati)

    Urdu:

    Woman = عورت (Aurat)
    Wife = بيوى (Beewee)
    Man = آدمى (Aadmee)
    Husband = شوهر (Shohar)/مياں (Miyaa)

    The term "Husband and Wife" is always "مياں بيوى" (Miyaa beewee) not "شوهر بيوى" (Shohar beewee).

    Gujarati:

    Woman = બઈરી(Bayree)
    Wife = પત્ની (Patni)
    Man = માણસ (Maa~as) (~ = nasalised sound)
    Husband = પતિ (Pati)

    As you can see, the words for woman and wife are different. It would sound very odd if you said in Urdu/Hindi "Meri aurat" to mean "my wife" - that means "my woman" which makes no sense.

    Similarly, you can also not say "meraa aadmi" for "my husband" - that means "my man" which also doesn't make any sense.

    However, in Gujarati the term "maaree bayree" (lit. "my woman") could be used to mean "my wife", but that's a bit slang and sounds slightly derogatory.

    The terms "Pati" and "Patnee" (Husband/Wife) are very indian words.
     

    Elibennet

    Senior Member
    Buenos Aires Argentina - castellano
    Dr. Quizá said:
    I would never refer to my wife as "mi esposa" because that word also means "hadcuffs" and sounds like if she were a punishment :D

    But then, if you say "mi mujer", it sounds as if you bought her! She´s your slave!
    Anyway, at a wedding the priest declares you "marido y MUJER". In Argentina (compatriotas, tell me if I´m wrong) it is a bit more "fashionable" to say "mi mujer" rather than "mi esposa".
     

    Thomas F. O'Gara

    Senior Member
    English USA
    One of the simple facts about the theme of this thread is that these names are always gradually changing in languages, based on social pressures.

    To add to the mix we have so far, in Egyptian Arabic husband is zôg, and wife is zôga. The Arabic root ZWJ means "marriage." This seems to be a nice, unbiased way of dealing with the matter.
     

    fenixpollo

    moderator
    American English
    Dr. Quizá said:
    I would never refer to my wife as "mi esposa" because that word also means "hadcuffs" and sounds like if she were a punishment
    Using the word "esposa" would only be confused with handcuffs if you had two wives and you called them "mis esposas." ;)
     

    panjabigator

    Senior Member
    Am. English
    I would say to add on /manushy/ and /purush/ to the list of men in Hindi. For woman, you can add /mahila/ and /strii/ to Hindi. For woman in Urdu, /zanaan/ and /khaatun/.

    Panjabi:
    wife: patni, thiimii (very village), biwi, vauThii (very village), gharwali (literally, the female who is at the house).
    woman: janaanii, aurat,
    husband: pati, gharwala
    man: banda, aadmi,

    But I would say you could use /janaanii/ for your wife as well as for a woman.
     

    David1969

    Member
    Spanish Panama
    In some countries of Latin America, a husband proudly says "she is my mujer o she is mi esposa" meaning "she is my wife". The woman does not feel less. It is considered very polite by the woman and the husband. On the other hand, a wife can say "él es mi marido, él es mi esposo". The husband feels ok about that. It is socially acceptable and widely used.
     

    amikama

    a mi modo
    עברית
    In Hebrew there are two words for "wife": אישה (isha) which also means "woman", and רעייה (ra'ya), which means only "wife", but it's a rather formal word and it's not likely to be heard in colloquial Hebrew.
     

    ukuca

    Senior Member
    Turkish - Turkey
    In Turkish:
    It's possible and could be used sometimes. But in general, we don't say kadın (woman) but we use karı (wife) with a possession: For example:
    George's wife = George'un karısı
    The possessives in this case goes respectively like this:
    karım, karın, karısı, karılarımız, karılarınız, karıları
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    anthodoheio it's not that formal! "Σύζυγος" (siziyos with i as in in) (which by the way means under the same well, 'yoke' as in a pair of animals plowing a field so to speak or, if you wish, in the same pair) is not informal but in semi-formal situations in is widely used.

    Stopping now before I go into the meaning and origins of the Greek world for "married".
     

    Maja

    Senior Member
    Serbian, Serbia
    In Serbian, woman and wife are the same - ŽENA (ЖЕНА) but she can also be called SUPRUGA (СУПРУГА) which is more formal and means "spouse". Although muž (husband) and žena are widely spread in use.

    Woman = žena (жена)
    Wife = žena (жена) / supruga (супруга)

    Husband - muž (муж) / suprug (супруг)
    Man - muškarac (мушкарац ) / čovek (човек) (-->also human)
     

    skatoulitsa

    Senior Member
    Greek, Greece
    ireney said:
    Stopping now before I go into the meaning and origins of the Greek world for "married".

    Are you talking about the word "παντρεμένος"? I can't say I have any clue of the origins, but I have to say I'm intrigued...
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    Skatoulitsa, it comes from "Υπανδρεύω" which of course comes from "υπό" (under) and "άνδρας" (man). It ws used only for women naturally (gay marriage not being legal in Greece even today) since it means that a women was getting below/under a man (and NOT in bed mind you ;) )

    A man back then was "νυμφευμένος" having taken a bride.
     

    Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    Thomas F. O'Gara said:
    One of the simple facts about the theme of this thread is that these names are always gradually changing in languages, based on social pressures.

    To add to the mix we have so far, in Egyptian Arabic husband is zôg, and wife is zôga. The Arabic root ZWJ means "marriage." This seems to be a nice, unbiased way of dealing with the matter.
    Actually, those are more modern standard Arabic. Sometimes, with certain letters, colloquial will switch them around (don't ask me why:)), so actually, the common Egyptian Arabic word for husband is gooz, but, for some reason gooza in not used at all for wife. Speaking about "wife" in a general sense you could say zooga, but actually there is another way to say wife when you specify whose wife: miraat-, such as miraati, my wife; miraatu, his wife, miraat John, John's wife, etc. This word is only used in the construct state, never alone.
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    In colloquial Palestinian Arabic, the word for "wife" and "woman" is the same: mara. That's not the case for "husband" (jooz) and "man" (zalame).

    In standard Arabic, there are four different words:

    wife - zawja
    woman - imra'a
    husband - zawj
    man - rajul

    Josh Adkins said:
    This word is only used in the construct state, never alone.
    So how would you say "He has a wife" in Egyptian Arabic? (I know, you could reword it and say "He's married" but I'm not interested in that. :)). In Palestinian Arabic we would say "3indo mara."
     

    Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    elroy said:
    So how would you say "He has a wife" in Egyptian Arabic? (I know, you could reword it and say "He's married" but I'm not interested in that. :)). In Palestinian Arabic we would say "3indo mara."
    This question has plagued be actually.:) Like I said in my previous post one could use the word zooga in a general sense, so you could say "3ando zooga." But the word mara (مره، مرا -- not sure how to spell it), in Egyptian Arabic, is a derogatory term to refer to a woman, so I would advise against its use in Egypt. mar'a (مرأه ), on the other hand is ok, and can mean both woman and wife, but I don't think it is widely used.
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Josh Adkins said:
    mar'a (مرأه ), on the other hand is ok, and can mean both woman and wife, but I don't think it is widely used.
    That's standard Arabic, though, so it wouldn't count as "Egyptian Arabic."

    Hm, perhaps this question is worth a thread in the Arabic forum? :)
     

    Josh_

    Senior Member
    U.S., English
    elroy said:
    That's standard Arabic, though, so it wouldn't count as "Egyptian Arabic."
    Yes, exactly.

    Hm, perhaps this question is worth a thread in the Arabic forum? :)
    You mean which term(s) is used in in Egyptian, or what terms are use in general throughout the Arab world?

    I forgot to say that "sitt" which is the normal Egyptian term for woman can also be used loosely to mean wife, but again, I don't know how widely it is used that way.
     

    elroy

    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Josh Adkins said:
    You mean which term(s) is used in in Egyptian, or what terms are use in general throughout the Arib world?
    I meant how does Egyptian Arabic express the concept of "wife" without any possessive or other endings - but now that you mention it, I guess the thread could include the whole Arab world as well. Why not - the more the merrier. :)
    I forgot to say that "sitt" which is the normal Egyptian term for woman can also be used loosely to mean wife, but again, I don't know how widely it is used that way.
    That's funny, because in Palestinian Arabic "3indo sitt" would mean "he has a grandmother" - or maybe "he has a woman" if the context makes that clear - but I don't think it would ever mean "he has a wife."
     

    optimistique

    Senior Member
    In Dutch a husband and a man are both 'man'.
    A woman and a wife are 'vrouw'.

    We do have special words refering to a married man/woman, but it's the most normal to call your wife 'vrouw' and your husband 'man'. So: yes, woman is the same as wife and husband the same as man in Dutch.
     

    Mahaodeh

    Senior Member
    Arabic, PA and IA.
    but now that you mention it, I guess the thread could include the whole Arab world as well. Why not - the more the merrier. :)

    Yes, maybe we should have a seperate thread!

    In Iraqi Arabic zawj and zawja are the formal way of saying husband and wife, however mara (woman) and rajil (man) are often used to refer to them (hathi marteh wo howa rajilha: lit. she's his woman and he's her man, to mean she's his wife and he's her husband).

    That's funny, because in Palestinian Arabic "3indo sitt" would mean "he has a grandmother" - or maybe "he has a woman" if the context makes that clear - but I don't think it would ever mean "he has a wife."

    It's even more interesting when you find out that if you say that in Iraqi Arabic it means "he has a mistress" (mistress= feminine form of master, not lover).
     

    dudasd

    Senior Member
    Serbo-Croatian
    In Serbian, woman and wife are the same - ŽENA (ЖЕНА) but she can also be called SUPRUGA (СУПРУГА) which is more formal and means "spouse". Although muž (husband) and žena are widely spread in use.

    Woman = žena (жена)
    Wife = žena (жена) / supruga (супруга)
    Husband - muž (муж) / suprug (супруг)
    Man - muškarac (мушкарац ) / čovek (човек) (-->also human)

    With a small addition:
    muž is archaic word for man (= muškarac)
    čovek is often used for "husband", especially in rural areas ("moj čovek" = my husband)
     

    valdo

    Senior Member
    Latvia, Latvian
    In Latvian:

    man - vīrietis, vīrs
    husbend - vīrs, laulātais, dzīvesbiedrs
    woman - sieviete
    wife - sieva, laulātā, dzīvesbiedre
     
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