Husband

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  • I. 1. The master of a house, the male head of a household. Obs.
2. a. A man joined to a woman by marriage. Correlative of wife.
b. transf. The male of a pair of the lower animals; a male animal kept for breeding.
c. Applied to the male in certain plants; also to a tree forming the prop or support of a vine. Obs.
  • II.3. a. One who tills and cultivates the soil; a cultivator, tiller, farmer, husbandman. In early northern use, app. applied spec. to a manorial tenant, the villanus or villein of other districts. Cf. HUSBANDLAND. Obs.
b. In later times esp. with qualifying epithet as in 5. Obs.
  • 4. a. The manager of a household or establishment; a housekeeper; a steward. Also a title of various public functionaries: see quots. Obs. exc. in spec. applications.
b. ship's husband: an agent appointed by the owners to attend to the business of a ship while in port, esp. to attend to her stores, equipment, and repairs, and see that the ship is in all respects well found. Now little used, the duties being generally performed by a ‘Marine Superintendent’.
  • 5. a. With qualifying epithet: One who manages his household, or his affairs or business in general, well or ill, profitably or wastefully, etc. Most commonly good husband: One who manages his affairs with skill and thrift; a saving, frugal, or provident man; an economist. (Cf. HOUSEWIFE.) Now rare or arch.
b. absol. = good husband in prec. Obs.
  • 6. attrib. and Comb. a. in sense 2; (a) appositive, as husband-lover, -soldier, -tree; (b) objective and obj. gen., as husband-beater, -catching, -hunter, -hunting, -seeking, -slayer; (c) husband-ripe a., ripe for a husband, of marriageable age. b. in sense 3, as husband-field, a cultivated field; {dag}husband-town, a farm; {dag}husband weed, agricultural or rustic clothing. See also HUSBANDLAND, -LIKE, -MAN.
c. Combinations with husbands', in specialized senses: as husbands' boat, train, etc., in former times a means of transport run chiefly for the convenience of men wishing to join their wives on holiday, esp. applied to ships, etc., run on Saturday; husband's tea colloq., very weak tea.
d. husband-wife a., pertaining to or involving a husband and his wife

See also