Definition of couvade in English:



mass noun
  • The custom in some cultures in which a man takes to his bed and goes through certain rituals when his child is being born, as though he were physically affected by the birth.

    • ‘The only known cure for couvade is - birth.’
    • ‘Armin Brott discusses the whys (at least, in theory) of couvade syndrome and this research says that this condition does exist.’
    • ‘But couvade, as I attempt to untangle its relation to colonialism in this essay, is a strategy re-invented for the purposes of reconciliation in narratives of Manichean allegory.’
    • ‘In extreme forms of couvade, the man may mimic the pain and process of childbirth and expect his wife to wait on him in the following days.’


Mid 19th century: French, from couver ‘to hatch’, from Latin cubare ‘lie down’. The adoption of the term in French was due to a misunderstanding of the phrase faire la couvade ‘sit doing nothing’, used by earlier writers.