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A trophy wife is commonly used to describe a wife who is considered a status symbol.


The term trophy wife appears in a 1950 issue of The Economist magazine[citation needed]. It refers to the historical practice of warriors capturing the most beautiful women during battle to bring home as wives, even if most modern trophy wives are acquired through other means.

In 1971, it also appeared on page 115 of American Studies By University of Kansas, Midcontinent American Studies Association, Joyce and Elizabeth Hall Center for the Humanities (Published by University of Kansas., 1971) Item notes: v. 37-38; v. 45, nos. 1-3 Original from the University of Michigan and Digitized Sep 23, 2008 by google.

William Safire claimed that the term trophy wife was coined by Julie Connelly, a senior editor of Fortune magazine, in a cover story in the issue of Aug. 28, 1989[1] and immediately entered common usage.[citation needed] Since the New York Times was one of the first newspapers to put their content online, this attribution of origin has become quite commonly accepted as fact.

Many sources claim the term was coined earlier (for example, the Online Etymology Dictionary cites 1984[2]) but easy online access to William Safire's article about the term has led many to believe (such as Oxford English Dictionary) that August 28, 1989 was its first use.[3]

Although it often has a pejorative spin, the term originally meant a corporate titan's second (or third) wife, who was younger and beautiful.[4] As used by Fortune, a trophy wife was almost always highly accomplished in her own right and was quite intelligent. This important point is usually ignored by the popular media, and in popular usage, a trophy wife is usually considered to be unintelligent, sometimes even a bimbo[citation needed]; in any case, a woman who is said to be drawn to her husband mainly because of his money and status.


The marriage of former Playboy playmate Anna Nicole Smith to oil magnate, J. Howard Marshall, was widely followed by the U.S. media, as an extreme example,[5] as at the time of their marriage: he was 89 years old and she was 26.

See also


External links

  • Alpha males forsake the trophy wife, article in the Sunday Times, stating that "Academics say they have found the first evidence that successful British males increasingly prefer a spouse with a high-powered job to one who stays at home with the children."


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




trophy + wife

Coined 1989 by Julie Connelly in a Fortune magazine cover story, by analogy with a real estate trophy building.[1][2]

“Powerful men are beginning to demand trophy wives. ... The more money men make, the argument goes, the more self-assured they become, and the easier it is for them to think: I deserve a queen.”


trophy wife

trophy wives

trophy wife (plural trophy wives)

  1. A wife, usually young and attractive, regarded as a status symbol for the husband, usually older and affluent.
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  • Notes:
  1. ^ The CEO’s Second Wife, August 28, 1989
  2. ^ ON LANGUAGE; Trophy Wife, by William Safire, The New York Times, 1994-05-01

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