We have uxoricide for killing one’s wife, but what is the equivalent term for killing one’s husband?

Similarly, what is the husband-specific equivalent for the adjective uxorial?

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    spousal homicide is the common term i hear most
    – user428517
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 20:47
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    @sgroves: that's the generic. What is asked for is the answer to this question: "Wife is to husband as uxoricide is to ______". Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 20:54
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    @Cyberherbalist I keep wanting to reach for pesticide. :) Still, it’s not like anybody who isn’t literate knows what uxoricide means anyway.
    – tchrist
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 0:04
  • Spousecide? Husbandicide? Thence, wifecide? Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 1:04
  • Keep in mind that any answer you get here will not be in common usage; while the term 'Mariticide' will generally be clear in meaning from it's context, it's not one that the vast, overwhelming majority of readers will have ever seen before. Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 1:30

4 Answers 4


Blackwell's Concise Dictionary of Social and Cultural Anthropology (2012) suggests mariticide (not to be confused with matricide):

Killing of one's own husband, or one who does this. Very rarely used. See also uxoricide.

There are many who object to this use. The original meaning of mariticide, it is said, was the killing of a spouse, regardless of the gender of the killer or the killed; maritus and marita are simply the masculine and feminine forms with the same Latin root, meaning spouse. Thus, it is argued, mariticide is no more a counterpart to uxoricide than marital is a counterpart to uxorial or parental to maternal.

Merriam-Webster, for instance, defines mariticide as

  1. one that murders or kills his or her spouse
  2. the act of a mariticide

There is no exclusive Latin word meaning husband, and thus no words to be derived from it to match uxorial, uxorious, and so on. But since mariticide is being used for this purpose, in a few years it is entirely possible that this use will be fully accepted. It has already made its way into Dictionary.com as

the killing of a spouse, esp. a husband by his wife

On the other hand, this use has already been around for a long time. From Punch, January 17, 1874:

The Yankees are said to have lately coined another new word to express the act, sometimes committed even in the United States, of a man who kills his wife. They call it "uxoricide." This is better than most of their additions to the Dictionary. They might have denominated wife-slaughter conjugicide; which would have been ambiguous. Uxoricide, having been established as a current expression, must of course be balanced with a name to signify the converse deed, which, by parity of nomenclature, will be termed mariticide.

The trend toward gender-neutrality argues for spousal homicide, which shows a sharp uptick in the last few decades, admittedly, like the others, from an extremely low base: Google Books Ngram showing popularity of "spousal homicide" increasing after the 1970s Google Books Ngram

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    Historically, marita is just a secondary femininisation of the original word, which was maritus, meaning ‘husband’ (not ‘spouse’ in general); so it is not wholly unfitting, really, if mariticide goes back to this historical ‘square one’, as it were. Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 22:43
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    +1 because although this word was already supplied in a previous answer, this answer provides lots of good detail! Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 9:00
  • What happened from 1840 to 1860 that made people talk about matricide? Wtf?
    – corsiKa
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 20:04
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    @corsiKa With words of such low prevalence as these, such peaks may well reflect flaws in Google's index, rather than trends in the language. You can click through to individual examples in the text.
    – choster
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 20:44

I found the answer with the Wiktionary:

Mariticide ­­­

  1. The act of killing one's spouse, especially the murder of a husband by his wife.

Although viricide is more commonly used to mean the killing of viruses, I have found many references to it also being used to mean killing of men or husbands.

Alternative definition of the noun viricide


1.[medicine] Any substance that destroys or inactivates viruses

2.The act of killing one's husband.

See above from Omnilexica and also WordSense and Wiktionary

I imagine this stems from the latin virilis meaning "of a man, manly, worthy of a man," and I am unsure whether the word viricide has ever actually been applied.

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    I don't like this association of men with viruses :(
    – Cruncher
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 16:39
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    In ethnographic jargon, when a married couple lives with the wife's family their residence is called uxorilocal, but when with the husband's family virilocal. So, uxorilocal:virilocal::uxoricide:viricide. This is the best choice by far. Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 21:26

Since uxoricide is based on the Latin uxor for wife, an exact male equivalent would seem to be required to be based on the Latin for husband. The Latin for husband is maritus, so it would appear the most logical choice is mariticide. Vir is the Latin for man, thus viricide is the killing of any man, not just a husband. The Catholic Church uses the word coniuicide (or conjuicide) for killing of a husband or wife for the purpose of marrying the surviving spouse. This is based on the Latin coniugalis (conjugalis) meaning conjugal or relating to marriage. (Remember, Latin uses an "i" where English would use a "j.")

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