Sunday, January 23, 2022

"Widow" and "widower" as gendered terms

In an essay, a student referred to a man who had lost his wife as "a widow". I wrote a note explaining that a man who loses his spouse is a "widower", while a woman who loses her spouse is a "widow". I briefly wondered what term might be used for a surviving partner of a same-sex marriage, but of course the term refers to the gender of the survivor rather than to the gender of the lost partner, so the extension of marriage to same-sex couples is not enough to make it necessary to change this terminology. Still, a non-binary person who loses a spouse might find neither term appropriate. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 23 January 2022)

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