noun pl. mid·wives,
- A person, usually a woman, who is trained to assist women in childbirth.
- One who assists in or takes a part in bringing about a result: “In the Renaissance, artists and writers start to serve as midwives of fame” ( Carlin Romano )
transitive verbmid·wifed, mid·wif·ing, mid·wifes,
or mid·wived mid·wiv·ing mid·wives
- To assist in the birth of (a baby).
- To assist in bringing forth or about: “Washington's efforts to midwife a Mideast settlement” ( Newsweek )
Origin of midwife
Middle English midwif probably mid with
Old English; see me-2
in Indo-European roots.) wif woman
Old English wīf
; see wife
. )Word History:
The word midwife
was formed in Middle English from two elements, mid
At first glance, the meaning of wife
would would seem to be clear. However, wife
often meant simply “woman” in general in Middle English, not specifically “female spouse” as it most often does in Modern English. The other element in midwife,
the prefix mid-,
is probably the Middle English preposition and adverb mid,
meaning “together with.” Thus a midwife
was literally a “with-woman”—that is, “a woman who is with another woman and assists her in giving birth.” The etymology of obstetric
is even more descriptive of a midwife's role. Its Latin source obstetrīx,
“a midwife,” is formed from the verb obstāre,
“to stand in front of,” and the feminine suffix -trīx;
would thus literally stand in front of the baby as it was being born.
- A person, usually a woman, who is trained to assist women in childbirth, but who is not a physician.
- A hundred years ago, a midwife would bring the baby into the world - going to a hospital to deliver a baby was either impossible or unheard of.
- (rare, figuratively) Someone who assists in bringing about some result or project.
(third-person singular simple present midwives or, rarely midwifes, present participle midwiving or, rarely midwifing, simple past and past participle midwived or, rarely midwifed)
- To act as a midwife
- (figuratively) to facilitate the emergence of
- But the bigger objective was to help Iraqis midwife a democratic model that could inspire reform across the Arab-Muslim world and give the youth there a chance at a better future.
- Thomas L. Friedman. "Attention: Baby on Board." New York Times. April 13, 2010.
While elementary students are taught "replace 'f' with 'v'," the mistake resulting in "midwifed" is made often enough in informal/colloquial language to indicate the rule is not consistently followed.
From Old English, corresponding to mid (“with") + wÄ«f (“woman").