In Season 1, Episode 2 of the British show Peaky Blinders, Polly tells her pregnant niece Ada:

The longer you leave it, the worse it gets. Believe me - I know. I was 16. And I didn't dare tell anyone... In the end, I did it myself. I did it to myself. And I almost died. And he didn't come back. They don't. Why should they? You know the words. You're a "whore". The baby's a "bastard". But there's no word for the man who doesn't come back.

Is the emboldened sentence in the quote above true?

Is there really no word in English for a man who leaves his pregnant other half and child?

  • 2
    At least in America, we call him a douche. Or sometimes a variation such as douche bag or just DB for short.
    – Stu W
    Jan 24, 2017 at 3:16
  • 4
    "Deadbeat husband" is a common term. Terms like douche or asshole can apply to any jerk.
    – Hot Licks
    Jan 24, 2017 at 3:26
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    If such a word exists in your native language, please post it along with its meaning, and maybe this will trigger someone's memory. I really don't think there is a noun which means a husband who abandons his wife and children. There are many suitable single-word insults (see Hot Licks' comment) but you're not looking for that, are you?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 30, 2017 at 8:06
  • 2
    "Man who doesn't come back" is very different from "husband who abandons his pregnant wife and/or child"; which are you talking about? Mar 31, 2017 at 22:42
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    Perhaps I'm perverse, but the question is not clear to me. For example, although he eventually returned, Odysseus was for a long time a man who left his wife and child; hence, "odyssean husband" would suit as an answer. Thus, and given that the point of view is not specified, it seems incumbent upon the question to stipulate that a perjorative is desired. Other examples from literature bear out my point; it is not always cadish, but rather sometimes heroic, to leave your "pregnant other half and child". How the act is viewed depends on circumstances, which are not stipulated in the question.
    – JEL
    Apr 7, 2017 at 7:54

4 Answers 4


You may use deadbeat husband, borrowing from deadbeat dadDictionary.com

(noun) 1. A father who neglects his responsibilities as a parent, esp. one who does not pay child support to his estranged wife.

You will definitely find many examples for deadbeat husband on Google.

  • I know of no single-word for this. So this should be a useful term instead.
    – NVZ
    Jan 24, 2017 at 3:46
  • I can't find the part in the question where it specifies the man is married to the woman... is it implied somewhere? My assumption after reading it was that they weren't, based on the word "bastard."
    – herisson
    Mar 30, 2017 at 22:18
  • 2
    @sumelic - There's nothing in the quote, but the OP decided that the man was leaving his wife in his question, which would mean they were married. So basically the question isn't fully supported by the quote that inspired it.
    – AndyT
    Mar 31, 2017 at 14:58
  • 1
    Selected as current best answer because deadbeat seems the closest word English has for this specific scenario, so the quote seems to make a poignant point; the closest word that exists is still not as vitriolic nor specific as either "whore" or "bastard".
    – Prometheus
    Mar 31, 2017 at 22:20
  • 1
    Deadbeat dads can still live with their partners and kids. It refers to their lack of care, not abandonment. Apr 1, 2017 at 13:29

He is a cad and a bounder. These are British English terms, and were very insulting in their day, if spoken by one gentleman to another. They were often used together:

You are a cad, sir, and a bounder, to treat your wife so!

cad, Cambridge English Dictionary

a man who behaves badly or dishonestly, especially to women:

He's a cad and a bounder - I'm not in the least surprised he let you down

The reference says this is British English. I don't know if it is used much nowadays, and it doesn't seem strong enough to me.

bounder, Cambridge English Dictionary

a man who behaves badly or in a way that is not moral, especially in his relationships with women.


Do you need it to be a single word? If so:

abandoner: a person or thing that abandons (Collins)

Example: He hadn't set out to be an abandoner. But when he found himself still incarcerated when the due date came, he became profoundly depressed at the role he was forced to play.


Though not very common in this context, runaway should still work.




1 A person who has run away, especially from their family or an institution.

‘How ironic that in this family, the runaway in question is a parent, not some rebellious teenager.’

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