If a woman dies, and was married at the time of death and the husband is still alive, how would one refer to her husband? I dont think he would now be called her ex-husband? And obviously not her late husband either. Is he still just "her husband"? For example, in these phrases:

  • her husband was worried about her health
  • her husband is distraught

Edit: addressed issues raised

  • If the OP retains the word husband in the phrases given, the first two phrases will not, by themselves, inform us that his wife is already dead. The ambiguity will be resolved by substituting "widower' for husband. This is not so with the third and fourth phrases which indicate the deceased status of both spouses. I believe that the OP might benefit from editing to reconcile inconsistency. I believe that the first phrase would benefit from deletion of the the word "for" and its replacement with "about". If the OP deleted the word "health" then the word "for" may be retained Sep 3, 2016 at 6:38

2 Answers 2


You're asking for Widower:

Widower: a man whose wife is dead especially one who has not remarried

  • Hello, Luke. Please ask yourself "Is this a suitable question to submit on a site devoted to 'linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts'?" An answer to such a basic question will receive at least one downvote in future. Sep 3, 2016 at 10:13
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    I have upvoted this answer, because (a) it is correct and (b) it helps the OP. If anyone has issues with the question they should take it up with the OP and not reprimand people for trying to be helpful. Sep 3, 2016 at 10:29
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    Actually, while referring to "his widow" is fairly idiomatic, it's at least unusual to hear someone say "her widower" -- generally "widower" is only used as a description, as in "he's a widower". Net-net: while there is no really idiomatic term for the OP's situations, "widower" is about as close as one can come. (And, because this is not a clear-cut as Edwin would have us believe, I don't see how it's a "bad" question.)
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 3, 2016 at 12:13

In certain contexts, he would be called the "surviving spouse". (At least in the U.S.)

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