Imagine someone asks a woman about their job:

What's your job ma'am?

She has no job and works as a mother and keeps home. What is the common term to such a profession in modern AmE?

She can say:

a - I'm a housewife.

b - I'm a homemaker.

As far as I know, the word housewife is not very pleasant to be heard by a woman. Instead they prefer to be called "homemaker". Hence, 'b' should work better here. Do you confirm it? If not, what a native would call such a woman?

  • 1
    If kids are involved the term "stay-at-home Mom" can be used.
    – Peter
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 9:17
  • 1
    "Housewife vs homemaker" question was answered and closed here on ELU.
    – Victor B.
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 10:02

1 Answer 1


I'm under the impression that homemaker has been gaining traction in recent decades, partly because some find housewife to be a mildly offensive term. (That viewpoint is not universally held; you can probably also find some who are offended by the fact that others find the word offensive.)

When the word housewife was coming out of vogue in some circles, a common refrain was: Don't call me a housewife – I'm not married to my house!

In any case, this subject has been addressed in blogs and other online forums; I thought this blog and this discussion on StraightDope gave some viewpoints that might be of interest to the learner.

TL;DR: I think homemaker is probably the "safer" alternative nowadays, but it's good to remember that not every stay-at-home mom abhors the term housewife.

  • One advantage of homemaker mentioned in the StraightDope discussion is that while it almost always means a woman, there's no reason it couldn't also mean a man who takes care of the home, while housewife is undeniably feminine.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 13:23
  • "Housewife" is still vastly more common than "homemaker": books.google.com/ngrams/… . Furthermore, "homemaker" peaked around 1980 and has been declining in usage since then. "Stay-at-home" is very uncommon, comparatively. Commented Jun 28, 2018 at 19:19
  • 2
    @JonathanCast - An Ngram only shows that one word is more common than another in written works. If you peruse the hits, you'll see Google is finding the word housewife in books like the reprint of The American Frugal Housewife (first published in 1829), or The Virginia Housewife. On the other hand, in the past ten seasons of the TV game show Jeopardy!, there were twenty contestants who chose to be introduced as homemakers, while only five were introduced as a housewife.
    – J.R.
    Commented Jun 29, 2018 at 2:19

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