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See synonyms for: womanwomen on Thesaurus.com

noun,plural wom·en [wim-in]. /ˈwɪm ɪn/.
  1. an adult female person.: Compare man (def. 1), girl (def. 1).

  2. a female employee or representative: A woman from the real estate agency called.

  1. Informal.

    • a wife.

    • a female lover or sweetheart.

  2. Older Use:Usually Offensive. a female employee who cleans a house, cooks, etc.; housekeeper.

  3. (in historical use) a female attendant to a lady of rank: Your woman informed us of your travel plans.

  4. the nature, characteristics, or feelings often attributed to women; womanliness: He has always loved and admired the woman in her.

  5. women collectively: Woman is no longer subordinate to man.

verb (used with object)
  1. to put into the company of a woman.

  2. to equip or staff with women.

  1. Obsolete. to cause to act or yield like a woman.

  1. of women; womanly.

  2. female: a woman plumber.

Idioms about woman

  1. 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, adjective
  • an·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)


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

usage note For -woman

Feminine compounds ending in -woman are equivalent to the masculine compounds with -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 ending 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 genders are involved. Instead, a gender-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. 2024

How to use woman in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for woman


/ (ˈwʊmən) /

nounplural women (ˈwɪmɪn)
  1. an adult female human being

  2. (modifier) female or feminine: a woman politician; woman talk

  1. women collectively; womankind

  2. the woman feminine nature or feelings: babies bring out the woman in her

  3. a female servant or domestic help

  4. a man considered as having supposed female characteristics, such as meekness or timidity

  5. informal a wife, mistress, or girlfriend

  6. the little woman informal one's wife

  7. woman of the streets a prostitute

  1. rare to provide with women

  2. obsolete to make effeminate

Origin of woman

Old English wīfmann, wimman; from wife + man (human being)

Other words from woman

  • Related prefixes: gyno-, gynaeco-

Derived forms of woman

  • womanless, adjective
  • woman-like, adjective

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


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.