woman

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See also: -woman

English[edit]

A woman.
Various women.

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English woman, from earlier wimman, wifman. The Middle English forms are from Old English wiman, wimman, from wīfmann m (woman; female servant, literally female person), a compound of wīf (woman, whence English wife) +‎ mann (person, whence English man). For details on the pronunciation and spelling history, see the usage notes below.

Cognate with Scots woman, weman. Compare Saterland Frisian Wieuwmoanske (female person; female human). Similar constructions can be found in Dutch vrouwmens (wife, literally woman-person), West Frisian frommes (woman, girl) (from frou and minske, literally "woman human"), Dutch vrouwspersoon (woman), German Weibsperson (female person), and dialectal German Fraumensch (woman, literally woman human).

A few alternative spellings (see below) respell the term so as not to contain man.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

woman (plural women)

  1. 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.
    • 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 examples of usage of this term, see Citations:woman.
  2. (collective) All females collectively; womankind.
    • 1910, Emerson Hough, chapter I, in The Purchase Price: Or The Cause of Compromise, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, OCLC 639762314, page 0029:
      “[…] 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. A female 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.
  6. A female attendant or servant.

Usage notes[edit]

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/ and /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".)[1][2][3][4]

Alternative forms[edit]

Synonyms[edit]

Hypernyms[edit]

Hyponyms[edit]

Coordinate terms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Derived terms of woman without hyponyms

Related terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

See woman/translations § Noun.

References[edit]

Verb[edit]

woman (third-person singular simple present womans, present participle womaning, simple past and past participle womaned)

  1. To staff with female labor.
    • 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.”
  2. (transitive) To make effeminate or womanish.
  3. (transitive) To furnish with, or unite to, a woman.
  4. (transitive) To call (a person) "woman" in a disrespectful fashion.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Eric John Dobson, English Pronunciation, volume 2 (1957), page 574
  2. ^ woman” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2020. / “woman” in Dictionary.com Unabridged, Dictionary.com, LLC, 1995–present.
  3. ^ James A. H. Murray [et al.], editor (1884–1928), “Woman”, in A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (Oxford English Dictionary), London: Clarendon Press, OCLC 15566697.
  4. ^ Christopher Upward, George Davidson, The History of English Spelling (2011), section "O"

Czech[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

woman m

  1. obsolete form of oman (elecampane), obsolete spelling of voman (elecampane)
    • 1820, Bedřich Všemír hrabě z Berchtoldu, O přirozenosti rostlin, aneb rostlinâř[1], 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).

Declension[edit]


Middle English[edit]

Noun[edit]

woman (plural women)

  1. Alternative form of womman

References[edit]


Upper Sorbian[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Proto-Slavic *omanъ.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

woman m

  1. inula, elecampane (Inula spp., especially Inula helenium)

Declension[edit]