Definition of wedlock in US English:



  • The state of being married.

    • ‘But illicit cohabitations and love affairs out of wedlock increased significantly.’
    • ‘He's 22 next month and already they're shoving him up the aisle into wedlock.’
    • ‘In a culture where relationships outside wedlock are frowned upon, many women are living lives of lonely misery, she said.’
    • ‘Opposition to sex out of wedlock as a concept just seems so outdated.’
    • ‘He seems inclined to accept the steady, court-imposed march of gay wedlock.’
    • ‘He was head over heels in love with a German girl by the time he completed medicine and the mutual affection ended in wedlock.’
    • ‘For, wedlock these days is determined not by the heart but by one's ‘fortunes’.’
    • ‘Terry Prendergast, chief executive of Marriage Care, which counsels couples on coping with the strains of wedlock, agrees.’
    • ‘The happy couple were joined in wedlock by local priest Fr. Gerry Chestnutt.’
    • ‘He told the court that wedlock now was not what it was traditionally.’
    • ‘This story makes reference to the age-old anxiety surrounding the idea of legitimacy and wedlock.’
    • ‘As in much of Europe, many young couples in this overwhelmingly Roman Catholic nation tend to live together out of wedlock.’
    • ‘They married in 2002, and their first year of wedlock was documented on a TV show.’
    • ‘The couple were joined in wedlock by Fr, Gerry Chestnutt with the reception held afterwards in the Tower Hotel.’
    • ‘He claims he was forced to resign because he lives with his partner out of wedlock.’
    • ‘Holidays together ought to be obligatory for couples thinking of wedlock.’
    • ‘Give and take is the key to a successful marriage, say a Malmesbury couple who have celebrated 50 years of wedlock.’
    • ‘Living together out of wedlock is more popular among couples today than ever.’
    • ‘People living in the northwest are in poor health, live out of wedlock and look after sick relatives, according to the latest census.’
    • ‘Their results provide strong indications that policymakers who are promoting wedlock are indeed serving the public well.’
    marriage, matrimony, holy matrimony, married state, union, conjugal bond
    View synonyms


  • born in (or out of) wedlock

    • Born of married (or unmarried) parents.

      ‘the story concerns a woman who conceives a child out of wedlock and is rejected by the baby's father’
      • ‘The ‘green paper’ also proposes that children be given equal rights whether or not they were born in wedlock.’’
      • ‘More than half of all first children are born out of wedlock.’
      • ‘Only her first child was born out of wedlock.’
      • ‘Nevertheless, there has been a sharp increase in children who are not only born out of wedlock but are raised without a father.’
      • ‘Usually, if a child is born out of wedlock, the parents will marry to take care of the child.’
      • ‘And one in three children these days is born out of wedlock.’
      • ‘He's a lot older than us because he was born out of wedlock, while my parents were still in high school.’
      • ‘Church law legitimised children born out of wedlock whose parents subsequently married.’
      • ‘For example, there was the case of one child born out of wedlock, whose parents had subsequently married.’
      • ‘Yes, I didn't want anyone to know I was born out of wedlock, and I didn't want to let anyone know that I was adopted.’


Late Old English wedlāc ‘marriage vow’, from wed ‘pledge’ (related to wed) + the suffix -lāc (denoting action).