In typography, a widow is a single word as the last line of a paragraph.

The diligent typesetter, desktop publisher or production artist corrects this by adjusting kerning or wordspacing within the paragraph to either pull the widow up a line, or move other words down to the last line. It is tacky to accommodate widows with soft line breaks, which may introduce spacing problems later if the text is edited.

Widows are considered unaesthetic and therefore undesirable. Because of these negative connotations attached to a sex-specific term, I prefer the sex-neutral "orphan". In typography orphan refers to the last line of a paragraph beginning a new page. Although this is a distinct meaning, functionally "widows" and "orphans" present the same problem to the typesetter: a stranded piece of text, isolated from the rest of its paragraph. I find no need for this degree of specificity, though traditional typesetters may inform me otherwise.

Wid"ow (?), n. [OE. widewe, widwe, AS. weoduwe, widuwe, wuduwe; akin to OFries. widwe, OS. widowa, D. weduwe, G. wittwe, witwe, OHG. wituwa, witawa, Goth. widuw, Russ. udova, OIr. fedb, W. gweddw, L. vidua, Skr. vidhava; and probably to Skr. vidh to be empty, to lack; cf. Gr. a bachelor. . Cf. Vidual.]

A woman who has lost her husband by death, and has not married again; one living bereaved of a husband.

"A poor widow."


Grass widow. See under Grass. -- Widow bewitched, a woman separated from her husband; a grass widow. [Colloq.] Widow-in-mourning Zool., the macavahu. -- Widow monkey Zool., a small South American monkey (Callithrix lugens); -- so called on account of its color, which is black except the dull whitish arms, neck, and face, and a ring of pure white around the face. -- Widow's chamber Eng.Law, in London, the apparel and furniture of the bedchamber of the widow of a freeman, to which she was formerly entitled.


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Wid"ow, a.


"A widow woman." 1 Kings xvii. 9. "This widow lady."



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Wid"ow, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Widowed (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Widowing.]


To reduce to the condition of a widow; to bereave of a husband; -- rarely used except in the past participle.

Though in thus city he Hath widowed and unchilded many a one, Which to this hour bewail the injury. Shak.


To deprive of one who is loved; to strip of anything beloved or highly esteemed; to make desolate or bare; to bereave.

The widowed isle, in mourning, Dries up her tears. Dryden.

Tress of their shriveled fruits Are widowed, dreary storms o'er all prevail. J. Philips.

Mourn, widowed queen; forgotten Sion, mourn. Heber.


To endow with a widow's right.




To become, or survive as, the widow of.


Let me be married to three kings in a forenoon, and widow them all. Shak.


© Webster 1913.

Wid"ow (?), n. (Card Playing)

In various games, any extra hand or part of a hand, as one dealt to the table.


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