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A.Word.A.Day--feme covert

Pronunciation RealAudio

feme covert (fem KOV-uhrt) noun, plural femes covert

A married woman.

[From Anglo-French feme covert, from feme (woman) + covert (protected).]

A feme covert is not the feminine equivalent of 007. Rather, it's a legal term to describe a married woman, one who is covered or protected by a husband. Some have interpreted the term literally to indicate a woman covered by a veil. The opposite of this is feme sole, a single woman, whether divorced, widowed, or never married.

"She had already defeated other complainants by claiming that she was feme covert, married 'to one Markham.'"
Gustav Ungerer; Mary Frith, Alias Moll Cutpurse, in Life And Literature; Shakespeare Studies (Rutherford, New Jersey); 2000.

"Than ladies-errant, unconfin'd,
And feme-coverts t' all mankind."
Samuel Butler; Hudibras; 1678.

This week's theme: words that aren't what they appear to be.

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