Printable Version
Pronunciation: kahn-kyu-bain Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A member of a harem or seraglio, a special room allocated to women in some societies. 2. A legal "secondary wife" among polygamous peoples. 3. A kept woman, a mistress.

Notes: Here is a word that has fallen into neglect since the Mormons gave up polygamy. It may still be used figuratively for any kept woman. The state of being kept in such a way is known as concubinage, and to describe such a state we have to say concubinary.

In Play: The literal sense of today's Good Word may be used thus: "Lot's lesser known concubine, who was hotter than his wife, was turned into a pillar of pepper." The Bible doesn't mention her for obvious reasons. It may be used figuratively like this: "Does anyone know how many concubines are in Phil Anders's harem?"

Word History: Today's Good Word was borrowed from Latin concubina "concubine" from concumbere "to lie with, to lie together, to cohabit". This word is made up of com- "(together) with" + cubare "to lie down". This verb also underlies cubicle, another word borrowed from Latin, this time a reduction of cubiculum "bedroom, resting room". This Latin root also underlies succumb and recumb "to lean, recline." The adjective based on this word, recumbent, means "lying down". (Jackie Strauss may now recumb, knowing that she has made all of us happy by suggesting today's suggestive Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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