View synonyms for woman



[ woom-uhn ]


, plural wom·en [wim, -in].
  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.

  3. Informal.
    1. a wife.
    2. a female lover or sweetheart.
  4. Older Use: Usually Offensive. a female employee who cleans a house, cooks, etc.; housekeeper.
  5. (in historical use) a female attendant to a lady of rank:

    Your woman informed us of your travel plans.

  6. the nature, characteristics, or feelings often attributed to women; womanliness:

    He has always loved and admired the woman in her.

  7. 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.
  3. Obsolete. to cause to act or yield like a woman.


  1. of women; womanly.
  2. a woman plumber.


  1. a combining form of woman:

    chairwoman; forewoman; spokeswoman.


/ ˈwʊmən /


  1. an adult female human being
  2. modifier female or feminine

    woman talk

    a woman politician

  3. women collectively; womankind
  4. the woman
    feminine nature or feelings

    babies bring out the woman in her

  5. a female servant or domestic help
  6. a man considered as having supposed female characteristics, such as meekness or timidity
  7. informal.
    a wife, mistress, or girlfriend
  8. the little woman informal.
    one's wife
  9. woman of the streets
    a prostitute


  1. rare.
    to provide with women
  2. obsolete.
    to make effeminate

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Sensitive Note

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. girl, lady, -woman.

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Gender Note

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. chairperson, -man, -person.

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Derived Forms

  • ˈwoman-ˌlike, adjective
  • ˈwomanless, adjective

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Other Words From

  • wom·an·less adjective
  • an·ti·wom·an adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of woman1

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”; wife, man

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Word History and Origins

Origin of woman1

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

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Idioms and Phrases

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

More idioms and phrases containing woman

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

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Synonym Study

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.

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Example Sentences

Many women have borne the brunt of care work during the pandemic in ways that impact their work.

From Quartz

I know there are more women who have been employed and minorities than ever before.

More news below, including Citigroup’s decision to name Jane Fraser its next CEO—the first woman to head a major Wall Street bank.

From Fortune

That article described the woman involved in the encounter with Mallott with sufficient detail to identify her as Jody Potts.

Twelve of the top 100 films were directed by woman, four times the number of 2007 and more than twice the five films of 2018.

From Fortune

A fourth suspect, a 26-year-old woman named Hayat Boumeddiene, remains at large.

In 2009, a Pakistani Christian woman got into a religious argument with some Muslim women with whom she was harvesting berries.

It is the summit of human happiness: the surrender of man to God, of woman to man, of several women to the same man.

While 19 percent of the House is female, just one woman will get to chair one of its 20 committees.

Instead, the man and woman in the truck wanted to know where the crash site was and whether would I show them.

She was also supposed to be the original or model of “the Virtuous Woman” therein portrayed!

The aged woman made no reply; her eyes still studied Ramona's face, and she still held her hand.

There are three things a wise man will not trust: the wind, the sunshine of an April day, and woman's plighted faith.

I find myself chained to the foot of a woman, my noble Cornelia would despise!

Woman is mistress of the art of completely embittering the life of the person on whom she depends.


Related Words

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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




wolves in sheep's clothingwoman about town