from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A practice in certain cultures in which the husband of a woman in labor takes to his bed as though he were bearing the child.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A practice among some peoples, such as the Basques, of the husband of a woman in the last stages of pregnancy taking to bed, avoiding certain foods, or imitating other behaviours of a pregnant woman.
  • n. sympathetic pregnancy: the involuntary sympathetic experience of the husband of symptoms of his wife's pregnancy, such as weight gain or morning sickness.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A custom, among certain barbarous tribes, that when a woman gives birth to a child her husband takes to his bed, as if ill.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A custom, reported in ancient as well as modern times among some of the primitive races in all parts of the world, in accordance with which, after the birth of a child, the father takes to bed, and receives the delicacies and careful attention usually given among civilized people to the mother.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a custom among some peoples whereby the husband of a pregnant wife is put to bed at the time of bearing the child


French, from Old French, from couver, to incubate, hatch, from Latin cubāre, to lie down on.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French couvade ("brooding") (Wiktionary)



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  • The least he could do is throw her an eskimo pi on his way to bed.

    March 4, 2007

  • Hey, a woman's got to learn life ain't all ice cream and midwives.

    March 4, 2007

  • What the...?!

    March 4, 2007

  • Brittanica: "(from French couver, “to hatch�?), the custom of the father going to bed at the birth of his child and simulating the symptoms of labour and childbirth. In an extreme form of couvade, the mother returns to her work as soon as possible after giving birth, often the same day, and waits on the father; the roles of the sexes are thus reversed."

    February 26, 2007