state of living together as spouses while unmarried
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Concubinage is the state of a woman in a relationship with a man of higher social status that gives her less rights than a marriage. In most of the cases the man has an official wife and one or more concubines. Concubines have only limited rights of support from the man, and their children have lower status than children born by the official wife or wives; these legal rights distinguish a concubine from a mistress.

Hagar and Ishmael in the Desert by François-Joseph Navez, 1820. Hagar was a slave and Abraham's concubine, who gave birth to his son Ishmael.[1][2]

Historically, the family of a girl were in favour of a concubinage with a mighty man, as it brought economic security. But concubinage could also mean sexual slavery.

In the Western world there is no legal status of concubines, as only monogamous marriages are recognized. Any other relationship does not enjoy legal protection; the woman is necessarily a mistress.


  1. Jenco, Idris & Thomas 2019, pp. 291–292
  2. Concubines and Courtesans 2017, p. 232.
English Wiktionary
The English Wiktionary has a dictionary definition (meanings of a word) for: concubine