Definition of wet nurse in US English:

wet nurse


  • A woman employed to suckle another woman's child.

    • ‘In the past, upper-class women sent their children to wet nurses until they were weaned.’
    • ‘Women administrators were appointed to supervise the system of child welfare services to ‘enfants assistés’ and the regulation of wet nurses.’
    • ‘The fourth type of wet-nursing developed when the Church and the State employed wet nurses to suckle foundlings in institutions created for saving souls and lives.’
    • ‘The women went away, too, to work as wet nurses in Paris and elsewhere.’
    • ‘From the beginning there was a practical obstacle to the proselytising: the hospital soon ran out of Protestant wet nurses.’


[with object]
  • 1Act as a wet nurse to.

    • ‘They paid them, wet-nursed them, mind them, breed them, fed them and nurtured them, the Opposition Leader said.’
    • ‘Chapman, the literary magazine that the redoubtable Joy Hendry has wet-nursed from infancy, is celebrating its 100th issue after more than 30 years of continuous publication.’
    • ‘As an infant, he was farmed out to be wet-nursed, and although his mother would come to visit occasionally, he spent the first five or six years of his life in the working-class family of Eugenia and Milziade Baldi and their two sons.’
    breastfeed, suckle, wet-nurse, feed
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1informal Look after (someone) as though they were a helpless infant.
      ‘I got tired of having to wet-nurse performers’
      • ‘Yet, the reality is that many directors tend to do just that - especially if they're stressed out newbies who have better things to do (they believe) than to wet-nurse a crybaby actor.’
      • ‘Blackstone grumbled to himself; ‘Demoted to wet-nursing aspiring pilots.’’
      • ‘I get annoyed when people force their hand-holding, wet-nursing systems down my throat.’


wet nurse

/ˈwet nərs//ˈwɛt nərs/