cuckquean, quean

In the 12 July 2009 New York Times Magazine, Lisa Belkin writes:

I’m speaking as a woman here, one of those who have watched the cuckold wives (a word that technically doesn’t apply to wives; I can find nothing in the dictionary that applies to sexually betrayed women, though you would think Webster would have added one by now)

Ms. Belkin is wrong; there is a perfectly good word for a female “cuckold.” The word is cuckquean. It’s a 16th century coinage, first recorded by John Heywood in 1562.1 The word is relatively rare, which is probably why Ms. Belkin didn’t find it in her desktop dictionary (neither Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate nor American Heritage list the term). But it can be found in the OED, the Shorter OED, and in Merriam Websters Third.

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