English : Midwife

Why is a person who helps deliver a child called a Midwife?

By Mrs. Malan, Madhurai, Tamil Nadu – India – 25th May 2007.

There are several theories about the origin of the word. Some people argue that the word mid stands for middle. The midwife was a go between the child and the mother. Considering the fact that we live in an age when we need middlemen for everything - whether it is to buy guns for the country or fixing cricket matches. This explanation may appeal to many people.

Unfortunately it is not accepted by the pundits.

An explanation that is accepted by many is the following. The word
wife (though it was spelt wif originally), I understand, in Old English meant woman. In fact, the original word for woman was wifman: wif meaning woman and man meaning human being. The word mid comes from the Old English mid meaning with. So, a midwife, as you can probably guess, was a woman who stayed with the mother and helped her deliver the child. Midwife is one of the few words left in the language where the original meaning of the wife is retained.
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