AskDefine | Define goodwife

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings


  1. (A title of respect for a woman).
    Goodwife Hopkins


Derived terms


  1. A female head of a household

Extensive Definition

Goodwife, usually abbreviated Goody, was a polite form of address for women of lower social standing in the 1600s, formerly used where "Missus" (Mrs.), "Miss" and Ms. would be used today. Its male counterpart is Goodman.
The terms were used in England and Puritan New England. They are perhaps best known today as the forms of address used in Arthur Miller's historical fiction The Crucible, and in Nathaniel Hawthorne's famous short story Young Goodman Brown.
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