One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1(in polygamous societies) a woman who lives with a man but has lower status than his wife or wives.
- ‘Abraham ended up with a wife and a concubine, Jacob with two wives and two concubines.’
- ‘Round about were the remains of two 20-year-old women (wives or concubines?), two 40-year-old men, and a dog.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Do they mean to train girls to becoming rich people's wives or concubines?’
- 1.1archaic A mistress.
mistress, paramour, kept womanView synonyms
- ‘The lords spend money freely, and the Old Master and the Old Mistress add on to the expenses with concubines and opium.’
- ‘From Kings to paupers, all of them had their mistresses and concubines and whores.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘At the age of eighteen, he took a concubine or mistress and together they had one child, a son.’
- ‘The courtesan or concubine was often the richest and most politically powerful of the whole court.’
Middle English: from Old French, from Latin concubina, from con- ‘with’ + cubare ‘to lie’.
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