Definition: Alewife has two definitions- The female proprietor of an alehouse and aNorth Atlantic fish similar to the Herring
The word ‘Wife’ has long roots – coming from the Old English word ‘wif’, meaning ‘woman’. It has even been suggested that it could have Proto-Indo-European roots in the form of ‘weip’, referring to something that is wrapped – the suggestion being that women may have been veiled at the time (though this is only conjecture).
It was not the norm for a woman to own and operate her own alehouse in the 1400s. So society, ever fair to the plight of women (yes – I am being sarcastic) decided to come up with a term to describe such a woman. Yes – they came up with the inelegant, strange and quite misogynistic sounding ‘alewife’. Well done there, society.
The fish, it seems, was served in such taverns and was thus named for the proprietors.
Why This Word?
Alewife is not a nice term, period. For those of you who maybe look with an unsure eye at the ‘women’s lib’ movement – think about derogatory terms like alewife – I think you’ll start to see the benefit of the movement.
How to use the word alewife in a sentence?
For the love of god – don’t … Unless you’re a fisherman!