There's this joke that talks about a womanizer who wants to hog a woman known as: 白二寡妇:


I found another article on Jianshu that is entitled:


which talks about:


二寡妇 going into prostitution.

Is "二寡妇" somehow synonymous with prostitution?


2 Answers 2


Short answer : No.

Longer answer :

In Chinese traditional culture, one follows a hierarchy called relatives circle 伦理. Relatives never call each other name name directly among themselves, instead, Chinese use ordinal and the person hierarchy and relatedness according base on one to another.

For example, if you have two elder uncle call Tom (1st) and Jerry (2nd), your father is the 3rd, two younger uncle call John (4th) , Nathan (5th). This is how you call them

  • Tom 大伯 (Eldest uncle ,伯 indicate he is elder than your father)
  • Jerry 二伯 (2nd uncle)
  • John 四叔 (4th uncle)
  • Nathan 五叔 (5th uncle, 叔 younger uncle than your father)

The society usually don't know each of your uncle name but they know each family relatives circle hierarchy. I.e. Say your family clan name is 白, this is how the society call your uncle (ordinal and clan name) and their wife

  • Tom 白大 , wife 白大嫂
  • Jerry 白二 , wife 白二嫂
  • John 白四 , wife 白四嫂
  • Nathan 白五 , wife 白五嫂

When Jerry pass away, his wife can maintain the relatives title(嫂) or called as widow(寡妇), then 白二嫂 can be also be identify as 白二寡妇 by the society.

  • +1, I fully agree to this answer.
    – dan
    Jan 9, 2019 at 15:01

白二寡妇 in the first joke is referring to the widow of the second son in the 白 family. (we can presume 白二寡妇 was a beautiful woman. Being a widow, the loafer presumed she would be in need of some male attention... )


二寡妇 in '喂不饱的二寡妇' also referring to the widow of a second son (二哥)

二寡妇 went into prostitution doesn't mean prostitution = 二寡妇; same as Mr.A is a thief doesn't mean thief = Mr.A

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