Not a husband - as he does not have a wife before the concubine.

Is there a single word for this or is there a lexical gap in the English language?

Sample sentence:

The concubines fell at the feet of [their men]

"Their men" obviously referring to the specific word I'm looking for, but may not exist in the English language.

  • 2
    Definition of concubine: "HISTORICAL: (in polygamous societies) a woman who lives with a man but has lower status than his wife or wives; ARCHAIC: a mistress." (Oxford Dictionaries). It seems to me like both of these meanings only apply to a man who is married. Can you clarify what you mean?
    – Laurel
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 6:07
  • There's no lexical gap but a cultural one. How do you define this "concubine"? As a sexual partner who is "kept" by the unmarried man for that sole purpose, (i.e. there is nothing like "let's get to know each other and maybe we'll have a family some day" or even "let's stay unmarried--I don't want the commitment") and with the understanding that the man has exclusive sexual access but the freedom to have other sexual liaisons?
    – TimR
    Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 10:41
  • It really depends on the arrangements of the society. If a man has a concubine but is not married, then it's his girlfriend, and the man is her boyfriend. But "boyfriend/girlfriend" can refer to a pair that see each other casually but don't live together, live together with no implied long-term relationship, live together as common-law husband and wife, are courting and likely to get married, etc. English doesn't have a good vocabulary for describing different nuances of domestic arrangement, but there's probably suitable terms in the society that distinguishes such arrangements.
    – user31341
    Commented Mar 9, 2019 at 4:51

2 Answers 2


The dark history of concubines suggest that the women were purchased in the market place or kidnapped during battle against their wish or they can be a wilful​ second wife or sexual partner without marriage. So, the male who purchase or keep such female should be her master or concubinator. Yes, concubinator is a rare word but you can find it in few online books. Example

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History, Volume 1 by Oxford University Press uses the word: Concubinator.

Types of Concubinage. Most commonly, a concubine is a womn who provides sexual and/or reproductive services to a man of higher social standing in whose household she resides. In some cases, concubinage is monogamous; that is, concubine and concubinator live together in a quasi-marriage that is the locus of emotional and......

Other sources on google books.


The term "concubine" is used in English to refer to many different relationships across many different civilizations over millenia. A concubine is just a position which is inferior to that of a "wife". Some places might make a distinction based on the social position of the woman, or based on the order in which she was married to the man. A woman might be a concubine in that she is inferior to the first wife, but she might be legally married to the man and therefore a wife (and would refer to the man as husband).

To answer your question though, the legal terms of "wife" and "husband" would probably not be used, no matter what area of the world you're looking at. The use of the word "men" in your example looks like just a generic term for someone in a non-marriage relationship. "Man" is probably the best term to use for the man here, since it is understood that there is a relationship, without the use of translations people may not understand, or modern terms which could cause people to make associations they shouldn't.

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