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Is there any idiom in English for a husband who has been betrayed by his wife? (I mean she slept and is occasionally still sleeping with her lover). Or maybe not an idiomatic expression, but just one word that is commonly used for such a person?

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Well, you've been given cuckold, but that's a really dated term. People would probably think you were really odd if you used it in earnest today - it's strange diction and a strange way to talk about another person's private life in today's society. In fact, I don't think there even is any more up-to-date equivalent. –  FumbleFingers Mar 8 '12 at 3:51

3 Answers 3

up vote 15 down vote accepted

A cuckold is

a historically derogatory term for a man who has an unfaithful wife. The word, which has been in recorded use since the 13th century, derives from the cuckoo bird, some varieties of which lay their eggs in other birds' nests.


The Online Etymology Dictionary offers the following:

mid-13c., kukewald, from O.Fr. cucuault, from cocu (see cuckoo) + pejorative suffix -ault, of Germanic origin. So called from the female bird's alleged habit of changing mates, or her authentic habit of leaving eggs in another bird's nest. The verb is 1580s, from the noun. Related: Cuckolded; cuckolding; cuckoldry.

Edit: This part of the Wikipedia article covers the variations on the 'horn' metaphor (to put the horns on, &c).

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In addition such a man can be said to "carry" or "wear" horns. –  dmckee Mar 8 '12 at 2:07
    
@dmckee Is that so? I never heard that idiom. Is it British? American? –  Pitarou Mar 8 '12 at 2:28
    
@Pitarou, see my edit. –  cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Mar 8 '12 at 2:51
    
@dmckee: Oh please! That sort of expression belongs to Shakespeare's day, not the modern era! –  FumbleFingers Mar 8 '12 at 3:52
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@FumbleFingers My people, the rednecks and hillbillies as we are called, retain many an archaic expression and have coined a few colorful ones as well. –  Mark Beadles Mar 10 '12 at 3:39

If the man is not the father of his children, we might say he has a cuckoo in the nest.

(A cuckoo is a bird that lays its eggs in the nest of another species, and leaves them to raise its chicks.)

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I think that's more of a French idiom: I've not heard it in English (though the meaning is obvious). –  TimLymington Mar 8 '12 at 9:16

Victim of adultery seems to be a common legal term for the spouse who isn't the perpetrator. It is also a popular term in Christian counseling circles.

Or you could just say he is the betrayed.

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