When strumpet, trollop nor shrew will do
February 2, 2009 10:56 AM   Subscribe

What's the term for a woman who's trying to steal someone else's husband? I thought the term was "cuckold," but that's a husband whose wife is committing adultery. I'm in the odd position of having to console a friend who's believes her man is the target of a campaign of seduction, and I'd like a succinct term.

Trivia reward for reading this far:
"wittol" - a cuckold who doesn't mind what his wife's doing.

There seems to be plenty of material on women who "play in someone else's yard," but the only terms I've found are the generic insults like "bitch," "whore," "slut," and other misuses of language.

To be clear: I don't need advice on what he/she should be doing, I just want the noun.
posted by Mozai to Human Relations (36 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Homewrecker.
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:57 AM on February 2, 2009 [5 favorites]

Seconding "homewrecker".
posted by Aquaman at 11:00 AM on February 2, 2009

posted by greekphilosophy at 11:05 AM on February 2, 2009

also vamp, or femme-fatale
posted by greekphilosophy at 11:07 AM on February 2, 2009

Also "hussy."
posted by charlesv at 11:11 AM on February 2, 2009

posted by amyms at 11:12 AM on February 2, 2009

A lot of these are accurate, but homewrecker's the only one that, to my knowledge, specifically addresses a woman who's pursuing a man not married to herself.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:16 AM on February 2, 2009

The "other woman."
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 11:24 AM on February 2, 2009

Adulteress is probably the least loaded term, but that may not be what you want.
posted by jedicus at 11:27 AM on February 2, 2009

Depending on the definition of adultery you use, though, that may not be the correct term for an unmarried woman sleeping with a married man. If such is the case, then you can use fornicatrix.
posted by jedicus at 11:29 AM on February 2, 2009

Yeah, some of these others are close, but it's "homewrecker".
posted by Bookhouse at 11:34 AM on February 2, 2009

I don't think "misuse of language" means what you think it means.

Also, another vote for "home wrecker".
posted by Coatlicue at 11:35 AM on February 2, 2009

Code name: Jolene.
posted by scody at 11:38 AM on February 2, 2009 [4 favorites]

standard noun: homewrecker
useful phrase: "human being with terrible judgment and probably a need for therapy"
posted by batmonkey at 11:38 AM on February 2, 2009

Another vote for homewrecker. Note that the OP is looking for a word for a woman trying to seduce a married man. Some of the other suggestions ("other woman," "adultress," "fornicatrix") are not correct if the man in question rebuffs her attempts, but "homewrecker" is still applicable.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:51 AM on February 2, 2009

Well, if the campaign is somewhat successful, then paramour?

paramour |ˈparəˌmoŏr| noun a lover, esp. the illicit partner of a married person. ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French par amour ‘by love’ ; in English the phrase was written from an early date as one word and came to be treated as a noun.

But if, as yet, the campaign is unsuccessful, then yes - homewrecker seems to be in the vernacular. But I like Jezebel: • [as n. ] ( a Jezebel) a shameless or immoral woman.
posted by peagood at 11:53 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

it really seems that unless she's successful, she's an attempted homewrecker.
posted by nadawi at 12:16 PM on February 2, 2009

I'm thinking "temptress" is pretty close to what the OP wants, in that it's a term that doesn't quite imply closing the deal.

On preview: nadawi is that close to beating me to it!
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 12:19 PM on February 2, 2009

i'd be careful with jezebel. some think it's yet another story in the bible where a woman had an idea that wasn't enslaving herself to the men and ended up being called a slut and murdered for it.
posted by nadawi at 12:21 PM on February 2, 2009

posted by Solomon at 1:03 PM on February 2, 2009

Hussy was the first term that came to mind.
"Husband-stealing hussy" is a popular Google term, as it turns out.

Consult the urban dictionary?
posted by catkins at 1:22 PM on February 2, 2009

i'd be careful with jezebel. some think it's yet another story in the bible where a woman had an idea that wasn't enslaving herself to the men and ended up being called a slut and murdered for it.

Some people somewhere are always thinking weird things about the Bible. That shouldn't stop us from using perfectly good terms that allude to the scriptures. Besides, the history of "Jezebel" as a term for a sexual temptress doesn't come directly from the Old Testament Jezebel, wife of King Ahab, and notorious oppressor of the poor, but from Revelation 2:20-21,

Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.

"Homewrecker" or "temptress" might be work as well or better, but "Jezebel" is also quite an appropriate label for this situation.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:26 PM on February 2, 2009

posted by Danf at 1:31 PM on February 2, 2009

posted by Acheman at 1:46 PM on February 2, 2009

"Homewrecker" - I believe it's a single word - will be universally understood.

As a matter of style, I prefer "chippie".
posted by Joe Beese at 2:02 PM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding Jolene. The song says it all...

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I'm begging of you please don't take my man
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don't take him just because you can
Your beauty is beyond compare
With flaming locks of auburn hair
With ivory skin and eyes of emerald green
Your smile is like a breath of spring
Your voice is soft like summer rain
And I cannot compete with you, Jolene

posted by filthy light thief at 2:06 PM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Homewrecker's probably the main term, though there was a soul song from the 70s about this, called "The Clean-Up Woman".
posted by Doctor Suarez at 2:39 PM on February 2, 2009

Point of order: Typically a Clean-Up Woman comforts gents post-relationship. "She's the one/Who takes him in/When you dump him in the street." It must be conceded, however, that typically the main squeeze "made it easy/For the clean-up woman/To steal [her] baby's love, oh yeah."
/useless pedantry
posted by GrammarMoses at 2:48 PM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

If Mama Fairytale was on MeFi and hearing this story,. the woman in question would repeatedly be called a "brazen hussy."
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 4:19 PM on February 2, 2009

Best answer: My GF's and I call any lady who attempts such things an 'egg wedge'.
posted by bingoes at 4:54 PM on February 2, 2009

I prefer the term "Man-trap."
posted by apricot at 5:13 PM on February 2, 2009

Skank is very descriptive.
posted by JujuB at 5:37 PM on February 2, 2009

Homewrecker is the most situation-specific term, rather than other ideas about words that mean "promiscuous woman."
posted by fantine at 4:55 AM on February 3, 2009

Response by poster: The reason why I don't want to use "promiscuous woman" is because it doesn't matter if this other woman (whom I will name "Third") sleeps with everyone with three legs -- or with him for that matter -- the only important bit is that she seems to be trying to get the husband to eschew his own wife, in preference to Third's own company.

vamp - A woman who seduces men with her charm and wiles, in order to exploit them. Also: to add something new to an old thing to improve it.
hussy - a housewife, or a worthless woman, or a frolicsome young woman.
jezebel - cruel immoral queen who fostered the worship of Baal and tried to kill Elijah
adulteress - A woman who commits adultery. Adultery - unfaithfulness of a married person to the marriage bed.
fornicatrix - (no definition found... is this a recently minted word?)
jolene - (pop culture reference, 'fraid I don't "get it")
temptress - A woman who entices
bitch - a female canine; metaphorically, an unpleasant woman
floozy - a prostitute who attracts customers by walking the streets
succubus - a lascivious spirit supposed to have sexual intercourse with the men by night
chippy - n. A small American sparrow. adj: dry and tasteless. (although my thesaurus has it in the same entry for floozy, harridan, trollop and clilitoromaniac)
mantrap - a very attractive or seductive looking woman. Also: A dangerous place, as an open hatch, into which one may fall.
skank - any substance considered disgustingly foul or unpleasant.

"homewrecker" gets it. Honourable mention for "egg wedge".
posted by Mozai at 10:16 AM on February 3, 2009

Succinct it's not, but a man who is the target of such a woman often refers to her as "the one who makes me feel the way my wife used to make me feel."
posted by dinger at 10:52 AM on February 3, 2009

Mozai -- 'fornicatrix' is the Latin (or perhaps fake-Latin?) feminine of 'fornicator', i.e., one who has sex with someone to whom they are not married (regardless of whether either is married to someone else).
posted by FlyingMonkey at 9:03 PM on February 5, 2009

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