Definition of concubine in US English:



  • 1(in polygamous societies) a woman who lives with a man but has lower status than his wife or wives.

    • ‘Do they mean to train girls to becoming rich people's wives or concubines?’
    • ‘Round about were the remains of two 20-year-old women (wives or concubines?), two 40-year-old men, and a dog.’
    • ‘Abraham ended up with a wife and a concubine, Jacob with two wives and two concubines.’
    • ‘He loved many women and had a multitude of wives and concubines.’
    • ‘Experts place the blame partly in Chinese cultural tradition that links a man's status to the number of wives and concubines he has.’
    1. 1.1archaic A mistress.
      • ‘The lords spend money freely, and the Old Master and the Old Mistress add on to the expenses with concubines and opium.’
      • ‘At the age of eighteen, he took a concubine or mistress and together they had one child, a son.’
      • ‘From Kings to paupers, all of them had their mistresses and concubines and whores.’
      • ‘The courtesan or concubine was often the richest and most politically powerful of the whole court.’
      • ‘She accepts the advances of the older, richer man and the difficulties she experiences on becoming his concubine are multiplied by the presence of his three other mistresses.’
      mistress, paramour, kept woman
      View synonyms


Middle English: from Old French, from Latin concubina, from con- ‘with’ + cubare ‘to lie’.