- a combining form of woman: chairwoman; forewoman; spokeswoman.
Feminine compounds ending in -woman are equivalent to the masculine compounds in -man. When the person referred to is a woman, the feminine form is often, but not always, used: alderman, alderwoman; assemblyman, assemblywoman; chairman, chairwoman; congressman, congresswoman; spokesman, spokeswoman; businessman, businesswoman. However, some forms ending in -man are applied to women, and occasionally terms in -man are specified by legal code: Alderman Dorothy Lavelle. In general, the practice in current edited written English is to avoid the -man form in reference to a woman or the plural -men when members of both sexes are involved. Instead, a sex-neutral term is used: council members rather than councilmen and councilwomen; representative or legislator rather than congressman or congresswoman. See also chairperson, -man, -person.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018