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What’s the Plural of Wife?

The plural of wife is wives. Like other nouns that end in f/fe, wife uses -ves as a plural noun.

What’s the plural of “wife”?

Wives is the plural of wife. Why wives is the plural for wife is a separate question. Hopefully, this post helps clear up some of the (reasonable) confusion on why English plural forms seem so random; or, more specifically, at least why wife/wives behaves as it does from singular to plural.

What’s the meaning of “wife”?

The online dictionary defines a wife as:

A married woman, especially when considered in relation to her partner in marriage.” Wives (pl. n.) are married women (pl. n.); a wife (sing.) is a married woman (sing.)

When to use wife or wives

In conversation, text or general writing, wife or wives is less frequently currently used than it was historically. Terms that make implications or assumptions (especially when the information is unknown, or hasn’t yet been disclosed) can have an unsavoury reaction, depending on the person and their sensitivities. When in doubt, best to avoid terms like wife or wives, and stick to more neutral terms (partner, or spouse works).

What’s the plural of wife?

The plural of wife (wives), is an irregular plural since wives doesn’t simply add en -es, it rewrites the entire ending to convey a plural. Though it ends in the regular –es as a plural noun, it does so by replacing its ending (-fe) in the singular case. Nouns normally add on the -es/-s to show plurality: books, phones, dogs and cats all put an s to demonstrate a plural noun. This makes it extremely easy (for the most part) to form a plural noun: just add an s to the singular noun.

knife knives
life lives
shelf shelves
self selves
half halves
Latin nouns ending in -f/-fe and –ves. Chart by Grammarflex.

This isn’t the case with words like knife, wife, shelf, elf, (the list goes on.) It could be that each of these words came was brought down to Modern English from the Germanic languages, or PIE (Proto-Indo-European region.) Students of Germanic languages and linguistics are likely familiar with the i-umlaut (a particular favourite on the #GFlex blog.) The i-umlaut, which describes modifying from singular the plural by interchanging vowels in the word (goose goes to geese; foot to feet, tooth to teeth.)

The i-umlaut describes one method Germanic languages used to denote a plural. Well, not unlike the i-mutation/umlaut, the rule that applies with these Germanic derived sibilants, (wolf, knife, wife, life, etc.) each ends in –ves as a plural noun, replacing the sibilant -f/-fe in the singular case. See the chart below.

Examples of “wife” in context

The following sentences show the correct use of the word wife in context:

1. He took an heiress to wife.

2. A man near and dear to me and many others has lost his wife in a battle with cancer. Robert Griffin III

3. Some married people prefer gender-neutral terms rather than husband and wife, such as spouse or partner.

4. Number one, the wife of a venture capitalist is a multimillionaire.

5. His wife stood smiling and waving, the boys shouting, as he disappeared in the old rockaway down the sandy road. (The Awakening and Selected Stories, Kate Chopin.)

Examples of “wives” in sentences

The following sentences show the correct use of wives in context:

1. The documentary explored the lives of prison wives.

2. Was he actually considering having two wives?

3. We are women, wives and mothers.

4. The calmest husbands make the stormiest wives.

5. Two cats and a mouse, two wives in one house, two dogs and a bone, never agree in one.

Synonyms of wife

  • spouse
  • partner
  • life partner
  • companion

‍Origin of wife

From on the etymology of wife:

Before 900; Middle English, Old English wīf woman; cognate with Dutch *wjf. German Weib,Old Norse vīf“.


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What’s the difference between they’re, their, and there?

Whose vs who’s?


  1. Origin of wife.
  2. Definition of wife.
  3. Synonyms of wife.
  4. Wikipedia, sibilants.
  5. Sentence examples wife/wives.

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