[ ley-woom-uhn ]
/ ˈleɪˌwʊm ən /
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See synonyms for: laywoman / laywomen on Thesaurus.com

noun, plural lay·wom·en.
a woman who is not a member of the clergy.
a woman who is not a member of a given profession, as law or medicine.
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Origin of laywoman

First recorded in 1520–30; lay3 + woman

usage note for laywoman

See -woman.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does laywoman mean?

Laywoman is used in a religious context to refer to a person who is a regular member of a religious congregation and not a member of the clergy—that is, a laywoman is someone who is not a religious official like a priest.

The term clergy collectively refers to people who have been ordained or otherwise serve as religious leaders or officials, such as priests, rabbis, and nuns. People who are not part of the clergy can be called laypeople or collectively referred to as the laity.

The word layman is more commonly used. It specifically refers to a man but is often used regardless of gender. The gender-neutral term layperson is also commonly used.

Laywoman is also sometimes used outside of a religious context to refer to a woman who is not a member of a particular profession or who is not an expert in or knowledgeable about a particular field. The word layman is also used in this way in the phrase layman’s terms, which means plain language that the average person can understand, as opposed to technical jargon that can only be understood by experts in the topic or those who are already familiar with it.

Example: I’m a laywoman, not an expert, but I’ve researched the topic thoroughly enough to have a grasp of it.

Where does laywoman come from?

The first records of the word laywoman come from the 1520s. The lay in laywoman is an adjective meaning “belonging to, pertaining to, or performed by the people or laity, as distinguished from the clergy.”

Lay comes from the Middle English lai, meaning “uneducated” or “not belonging to the clergy.” It ultimately comes from the Greek lāikós, meaning “of the people” (as in the common people).

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What are some other forms related to laywoman?

  • laywomen (plural)

What are some synonyms for laywoman?

What are some words that share a root or word element with laywoman? 

What are some words that often get used in discussing laywoman?

How is laywoman used in real life?

Laywoman is probably most likely to be used in a religious context due to the fact that layman and layperson are more common in non-religious contexts. However, laywoman is still sometimes used to refer to a woman who is not an expert in a particular field.

Try using laywoman!

Which of the following terms can be used as a synonym of laywoman?

A. layperson
B. nonexpert
C. member of the laity
D. all of the above

How to use laywoman in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for laywoman

/ (ˈleɪwʊmən) /

noun plural -women
a woman who is not a member of the clergy
a woman who does not have specialized or professional knowledge of a subjecta guide for the laywoman
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