noun pl. midwives
Origin: ME midwyf < mid, with < OE (< Gmc mithi < IE *meti- < base *me- > mid, Ger mit, Gr meta) + wif, woman (see wife): basic sense “woman with, woman assisting”
See midwife in American Heritage Dictionary 4
noun pl. mid·wives (-wīvzˌ)
Origin: Middle English midwif
Origin: : probably mid, with (from Old English; see me-2 in Indo-European roots)
Origin: + wif, woman (from Old English wīf). Word History: The word midwife is the sort of word whose etymology seems perfectly clear until one tries to figure it out. Wife would seem to refer to the woman giving birth, who is usually a wife, but mid ? A knowledge of older senses of words helps us with this puzzle. Wife in its earlier history meant “woman,” as it still did when the compound midwife was formed in Middle English (first recorded around 1300). Mid is probably a preposition, meaning “together with.” Thus a midwife was literally a “with woman” or “a woman who assists other women in childbirth.” Even though obstetrics has been rather resistant to midwifery until fairly recently, the etymology of obstetric is rather similar, going back to the Latin word obstetrīx, “a midwife,” from the verb obstāre, “to stand in front of,” and the feminine suffix -trīx; the obstetrīx would thus literally stand in front of the baby.
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