Dictionary.com

woman

[ woom-uhn ]
/ ˈwʊm ən /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: woman / women on Thesaurus.com

noun, plural wom·en [wim-in]. /ˈwɪm ɪn/.
verb (used with object)
adjective
of women; womanly.
female: a woman plumber.
QUIZ
FIRE UP YOUR VOCAB FOR A "RED" SYNONYMS QUIZ
No fire engine reds here, only a fierce collection of vibrant words for the color red to test yourself on.
Question 1 of 7
What does "amaranth" mean?
Meet Grammar CoachWrite or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar helpImprove Your Writing
Meet Grammar CoachImprove Your Writing
Write or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar help

Idioms about woman

    be one's own woman, (of females) to be free from restrictions, control, or dictatorial influence; be independent.

Origin of woman

First recorded before 900; Middle English womman, wimman, Old English wīfman(n), wīfmon(n), equivalent to wīf “female, wife, woman” + man(n) “human being, man”; see origin at wife, man

synonym study for woman

Woman, female, lady are nouns referring to an adult female human being, one paradigm of gender and biological sex for adult human beings. Woman is the general term. It is neutral, lacking either favorable or unfavorable implication, and is the most commonly used of the three: a wealthy woman; a woman of strong character, of unbridled appetites. In scientific, statistical, and other objective use, female is the neutral contrastive term to male and may apply to plants and animals also: 104 females to every 100 males; Among lions, the female is the chief hunter. Female is sometimes used in disparaging contexts: a gossipy female; a conniving female. Lady meaning “refined, polite woman” is a term of approval or praise: a real lady in all things; to behave like a lady. When used as a form of address, lady may be polite or neutral in tone: Ladies, did you hear about the new brunch menu with bottomless mimosas? However, in the singular it is often perceived as rude: Hey, lady, I don’t have all day.

usage note for woman

1. Although formerly woman was sometimes regarded as demeaning and lady was the term of courtesy, woman is the designation preferred by most modern female adults: League of Women Voters; American Association of University Women. Woman is the standard feminine parallel to man. As a modifier of a plural noun, woman, like man, is exceptional in that the plural form women is used: women athletes; women students. The use of lady as a term of courtesy has diminished somewhat in recent years ( the lady of the house ), although it still survives in a few set phrases ( ladies' room; Ladies' Day ). Lady is also used, but decreasingly, as a term of reference for women engaged in occupations considered by some to be menial or routine: cleaning lady; saleslady. See also girl, lady, -woman.

OTHER WORDS FROM woman

wom·an·less, adjectivean·ti·wom·an, adjective

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH woman

lady, woman (see synonym study at the current entry; see usage note at the current entry)

Other definitions for woman (2 of 2)

-woman

a combining form of woman: chairwoman; forewoman; spokeswoman.

usage note for -woman

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 mixed sexes are involved. Instead, a sex-neutral term is used: councilmembers 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. 2021

WORDS THAT USE -WOMAN

What does -woman mean?

The combining form -woman is used like a suffix meaning “woman,” most often to indicate a woman who performs a particular job or function. It is often used in a variety of technical and everyday terms.

The form -woman ultimately comes from the Old English wīfmann, meaning “woman” or, more literally, “female person,” from wīf, “woman” or “wife,” and mann, which was then a gender-neutral term for an adult person. Want to know more? Check out our Words That Use entry for -wife.

What are variants of -woman?

The plural form of -woman is -women, as in saleswomen. An ending that’s less commonly used but means the same thing is -lady, as in saleslady. The male equivalent of -woman is -man, as in salesman. However, use of this kind of gendered language for professions has decreased in recent years, with gender-neutral terms often being preferred. Namely, the ending -person is often used, as in salesperson. Some terms are changed altogether, such as mail carrier being used instead of mailman. Still, some people may prefer to use the gender-specific version of a term that applies to them—a mailman may prefer to call himself a mailman and congresswoman may prefer to call herself a congresswoman, for example.

For more guidance, check out the Thesaurus.com guide to gender-neutral language.

Examples of -woman

The form -woman is used in many different words and is especially associated with professions, such as businesswoman and camerawoman. But the -woman ending in all of these words can also be replaced with -man. Most terms now have commonly used gender-neutral equivalents, including congresswoman (congressperson or representative), policewoman (police officer), and chairwoman (chairperson or just chair).

What are some words that use the combining form -woman?

How to use woman in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for woman

woman
/ (ˈwʊmən) /

noun plural women (ˈwɪmɪn)
verb (tr)
rare to provide with women
obsolete to make effeminate

Other words from woman

Related prefixes: gyno-, gynaeco-

Derived forms of woman

womanless, adjectivewoman-like, adjective

Word Origin for woman

Old English wīfmann, wimman; from wife + man (human being)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with woman

woman

see feel like oneself (new woman); marked man (woman); (woman) of few words; own person (woman); right-hand man (woman); scarlet woman.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
FEEDBACK