From Middle English womman, wimman, wifman, from Old English wīfmann (“woman”, literally “female person”), a compound of wīf (“woman, female”, whence English wife) + mann (“person, human being”, whence English man); thus equivalent to wife + man. For details on the pronunciation and spelling history, see the usage notes below.
Cognate with Scots woman, weman (“woman”), Saterland Frisian Wieuwmoanske (“female person, female human, woman”). Similar constructions can be found in West Frisian frommes (“woman, girl”) (from frou and minske, literally "woman human").
A few alternative spellings (see below) respell the term so as not to contain man.
- (Received Pronunciation, US) IPA(key): /ˈwʊm.ən/
- (US, dialectal) IPA(key): /ˈwoʊ.mən/, [ˈwo.mɪn]
- (New Zealand) IPA(key): /ˈwʊm.ɘn/
Audio (US) (file) Audio (US) (file) Audio (UK) (file)
- Hyphenation: wom‧an
- Rhymes: -ʊmən
- Homophone: women (some dialects, common in New Zealand and South Africa)
woman (plural women)
- An adult female human.
- 1887, Helen Campbell, Prisoners of poverty: their trades and their lives, page 120:
- But this woman is a nice German woman that fell on the ice and sprained her ankle last winter, and we saw to her well as we could till she got better.
- 1888 September 6, Michigan School Moderator, page 402, column 3:
- Dr. J. H. Vincent, the great lecturer, says that a man's greatness consists in his courage; his inherent nobleness; his noble deeds, great exploits, and benefits to the world; but that behind every great man is a great woman - his mother.
- 1978, Ashford & Simpson (lyrics and music), “I’m Every Woman”, in Chaka, performed by Chaka Khan:
- Cause I'm every woman / It's all in me
- 1979, Muriel Lederer, Blue-collar jobs for women, page 59:
- During World War II, many women worked as blacksmiths in the shipbuilding industry and found they liked the challenging, independent work.
- 2012, Kate Welsh, Substitute Daddy, →ISBN:
- "There is nothing wrong with Melissa or the way she was raised. She is a sweet, kind, intelligent woman with a generous heart and more love for her child than you and Mother ever showed for either of your children."
- For more quotations using this term, see Citations:woman.
- (collective) All female humans collectively; womankind.
- 1886 October – 1887 January, H[enry] Rider Haggard, She: A History of Adventure, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., published 1887, →OCLC:
- `Listen, Holly. Thou art a good and honest man, and I fain would spare thee; but, oh! it is so hard for woman to be merciful.'
- 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter I, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
- “ […] it is not fair of you to bring against mankind double weapons ! Dangerous enough you are as woman alone, without bringing to your aid those gifts of mind suited to problems which men have been accustomed to arrogate to themselves.”
- 1972, Helen Reddy, "I Am Woman," first line:
- I am Woman, hear me roar / In numbers too big to ignore
- 1997, Bob Grant, Let's Be Heard, page 42:
- For if modern woman is so intent on keeping her surname alive, why not demand it be passed along to her children?
- 2011, Eileen Gray and the Design of Sapphic Modernity: Staying In, page 109:
- Unsurprisingly, if modern man is a sort of camera, modern woman is a picture.
- A female person, usually an adult; a (generally adult) female sentient being, whether human, supernatural, elf, alien, etc.
- 2003, Amelia Jones, The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader, Psychology Press, →ISBN, page 37:
- To be born a woman has been to be born, within an allotted and confined space, into the keeping of men.
- 2007, Clifford B. Bowyer, The Siege of Zoldex, Silver Leaf Books, LLC, →ISBN, page 307:
- One of the elves, a woman with long auburn hair, was garbed identically to the two dwarves.
- 2008, Christopher Paolini, Brisingr: Or The Seven Promises of Eragon Shadeslayer and Saphira Bjartskular - Inheritance Book Three, →ISBN, page 549:
- Clearing a space between the tables, the men tested their prowess against one another with feats of wrestling and archery and bouts with quarterstaves. Two of the elves, a man and a woman, demonstrated their skill with swordplay— […]
- 2012, Merlin Stone, When God Was A Woman:
- At the very dawn of religion, God was a woman.
- 2014, Oisin McGann, Kings of the Realm: Cruel Salvation, Penguin UK, →ISBN:
- There was a pair of burly dwarves – a woman and a man – bearing the markings of the formidable Thane Guards.
- A wife (or sometimes a fiancée or girlfriend).
- 1914, D. H. Lawrence, Study of Thomas Hardy and Other Essays, chapter 7: "Of Being and Not-Being":
- And then, when he lies with his woman, the man may concurrently be with God, and so get increase of his soul.
- 1914, D. H. Lawrence, Study of Thomas Hardy and Other Essays, chapter 7: "Of Being and Not-Being":
- A female person who is extremely fond of or devoted to a specified type of thing. (Used as the last element of a compound.)
- 2004, Hyveth Williams, Secrets of a Happy Heart: A Fresh Look at the Sermon on the Mount, page 70:
- Perhaps my problem is that I am a cat woman. I can't imagine any finicky feline (and they all are that at one time or another) slobbering over anyone, even a beloved owner, the way a dog does.
- A female attendant or servant.
- 1613 (date written), William Shakespeare; [John Fletcher], “The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eight”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act V, scene ii]:
- By her woman I sent your message.
The current pronunciation of the first vowel of the singular began to appear in western England in the 13th century under the rounding influence of the w, though the older pronunciation with /i/ (→ modern /ɪ/) remained in use into the 15th century. Although the vowel of the plural was sometimes also altered to /u/ (→ modern /ʊ/) beginning in the 14th century, the pronunciation with /ɪ/ ultimately won out there, possibly under the influence of pairs like foot-feet. However, many speakers (especially of New Zealand English or South African English) have either retained or reinnovated the pronunciation of the plural with /ʊ/. The modern spelling women for the plural is due to influence of the singular; it is attested from the 15th century.
For a time in the 16th and 17th centuries, the pronunciation of the singular sometimes drifted even further back towards /uː/ or /ɔː~oː/ (→ modern /oʊ~əʊ/) and the plural sometimes drifted even further forward towards /iː/, leading to comparisons of the words to "woe man" or "we men".)
- (feminist spellings; very rare:) (singular:) womxn, womyn, (plural:) womxn, womyn, wymyn
- (eye dialect, sometimes also used as feminist spellings:) (singular:) womin, wommon (also obsolete), womon (plural:) wimin, wimmin, wimmen, wymmyn
- (obsolete, 17th c.) weoman
- (obsolete) whoman
- (plural, informal or obsolete) wimen
- (plural, nonstandard, proscribed) womans
- (plural, nonstandard, African-American Vernacular) womens
- lady; female; see more at Thesaurus:woman
- advance woman
- black widow
- cis woman
- comfort woman
- con woman
- cunning woman
- first woman
- garbage woman
- kept woman
- little woman
- loose woman
- medicine woman
- muscle woman
- New Woman
- old lady
- old woman
- other woman
- Proverbs woman
- public woman
- right-hand woman
- scarlet woman
- strange woman
- stunt woman
- woman of easy virtue
- woman of ill repute
- woman of science
- woman of the street
- Wonder Woman
- a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle, a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle
- behind every successful man there stands a woman
- once a woman, twice a child
- transwoman, trans woman
- womanhater, woman-hater, woman hater
- Antigua and Barbuda Creole English: uman
- Aukan: uman
- Krio: uman
- Sranan Tongo: uma; oema (superseded)
- Torres Strait Creole: oman
- → Japanese: ウーマン (ūman)
- → Korean: 우먼 (umeon)
- → Volapük: vom
- woman on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
- Woman (disambiguation) on Wikipedia.Wikipedia
woman (third-person singular simple present womans, present participle womaning or womanning, simple past and past participle womaned or womanned)
- To staff with female labor.
- 1813, “Yorkshire Assizes. May a woman be deemed a sailor sufficient in manning a vessel? Case of Insurance.—Cook v. Thompson.”, in The Literary Panorama, […], volume XIV, London: […] Cox and Baylis, […] for C[harles] Taylor, […], page 683:
- […] he should prove, from the testimony of the most experienced seamen, that the vessel was, if not, strictly speaking, sufficiently manned, yet that she was sufficiently manned and womanned. The Gypsey was a vessel of 43 tons burden, and there were on board two able seamen and the Captain’s wife, who was a very good sailor;
- 1956, Rex Stout, Three Witnesses, The Viking Press, page 54:
- Apparently the Sixty-ninth Street office of Bagby Answers, Inc., was being womaned for the day from other offices.
- 1990, Stephen King, The stand: the complete & uncut edition:
- Gus Dinsmore, the public beach parking lot attendent, said he guessed that so many cars must be just stopped dead along the road that even those manned (or womaned) by able drivers would be unable to move.
- 2010, Julia Glass, The Widower's Tale, page 77:
- The information desk is now manned (womaned) by someone whose main job is to help you reserve time slots for the computers or guide you through the arduous process of “logging on.”
- (transitive) To make effeminate or womanish.
- c. 1604–1605 (date written), William Shakespeare, “All’s VVell, that Ends VVell”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene ii], line 50:
- I have felt so many quirks of joy and grief / That the first face of neither on the start / Can woman me unto't.
- (transitive) To furnish with, or unite to, a woman.
- c. 1603–1604 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Othello, the Moore of Venice”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene iv], line 191:
- And think it no addition, nor my wish, / To have him see me woman'd.
- (transitive) To call (a person) "woman" in a disrespectful fashion.
woman (not comparable)
- (particularly Nigeria, India, sometimes proscribed) Of or relating to a woman/women; female.
- 1985, Anthony King, The British Prime Minister, Duke University Press, →ISBN:
- But of course Britain since 1979 has had a woman prime minister, while no woman has ever come near to being president of the United States.
- 2020 August 18, Veronica Chambers; The Staff of The New York Times, Finish The Fight!: The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote, HarperCollins, →ISBN:
- You can't spend months studying the history of the suffrage movement without gaining a new appreciation for the grit and gumption it takes to be a powerful woman leader.
American grammarians and style guides often proscribe/reject the usage of woman as an adjective.
- ^ Eric John Dobson, English Pronunciation, volume 2 (1957), page 574
- ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2023), “woman”, in Online Etymology Dictionary. / “woman”, in Dictionary.com Unabridged, Dictionary.com, LLC, 1995–present.
- ^ James A. H. Murray [et al.], editors (1884–1928), “Woman”, in A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (Oxford English Dictionary), London: Clarendon Press, →OCLC.
- ^ Christopher Upward, George Davidson, The History of English Spelling (2011), section "O"
- ^ “Is Hillary Trying to Be the First Woman President, Female President, or Lady President?”, in Slate Magazine, 18 February 2016, retrieved 2022-05-27
- ^ “Female Trouble: The Debate Over “Woman” as an Adjective”, in The New Yorker, 30 May 2019, retrieved 2022-05-27
- ^ “Using 'Lady,' 'Woman,' and 'Female' to Modify Nouns”, in Merriam Webster, accessed 2022-05-27
- ^ “AP Stylebook: Use female, not woman, as an adjective. For example: She is the first female governor of North Carolina. Treatment of the sexes should be evenhanded and free of assumptions and stereotypes.”, in Twitter, July 27, 2020, retrieved 2022-05-27
- woman at OneLook Dictionary Search
- woman in Britannica Dictionary
- woman in Ozdic collocation dictionary
- woman in WordReference English Collocations
- “New definitions for "man" and "woman"” by Victor Mair in Language Log ()
woman m inan
- obsolete form of oman (“elecampane”), obsolete spelling of voman (“elecampane”)
- 1820, Bedřich Všemír hrabě z Berchtoldu, O přirozenosti rostlin, aneb rostlinâř, volume 1, Prague: Jos. Krause, page 142:
- Škrobu welmi podobná hmota zdá se býti womanina (inulinum), kterauž P. Vauquelin w kořenu Womanu lekařského (Inula helenium) nalezl.
- A substance similar to starch seems to be the elecampine (inulinum) which already P. Vauquelin has found in the root of the officinal inula (Inula helenium).
woman (plural women)
- Alternative form of womman
From Proto-Slavic *omanъ.
- inula, elecampane (Inula spp., especially Inula helenium)
- “woman” in Soblex
- English terms derived from Proto-Indo-European
- English terms derived from the Proto-Indo-European root *mon-
- English terms inherited from Middle English
- English terms derived from Middle English
- English terms inherited from Old English
- English terms derived from Old English
- English 2-syllable words
- English terms with IPA pronunciation
- English terms with audio links
- Rhymes:English/ʊmən/2 syllables
- English terms with homophones
- English lemmas
- English nouns
- English countable nouns
- English nouns with irregular plurals
- English terms with quotations
- English collective nouns
- English verbs
- English transitive verbs
- English adjectives
- English uncomparable adjectives
- Nigerian English
- Indian English
- English proscribed terms
- English autohyponyms
- English terms of address
- en:Female animals
- Czech terms with IPA pronunciation
- Czech lemmas
- Czech nouns
- Czech terms spelled with W
- Czech masculine nouns
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- Middle English lemmas
- Middle English nouns
- Upper Sorbian terms inherited from Proto-Slavic
- Upper Sorbian terms derived from Proto-Slavic
- Upper Sorbian terms with IPA pronunciation
- Upper Sorbian lemmas
- Upper Sorbian nouns
- Upper Sorbian masculine nouns