The Scottish Women's Rural Institutes (SWRI) vote today on whether to do away with the term 'housewife'. In the nineteenth century it meant a trivial woman or girl and as the SWRI debate indicates, it's not only feminists who have questioned the use of the word.
So does the word still have relevance today, when many women are neither wives nor live in a house? And where does the word come from, and how has its meaning changed over the decades? To discuss these issues, Jenni is joined by the historian and biographer of Mrs Beeton, Kathryn Hughes and the etymologist Susie Dent, resident word expert on Channel 4's Countdown.