Definition of woman in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈwo͝omən/

noun (plural women /ˈwimin/)

1An adult human female.
Example sentences
  • The jury of seven women and five men were discharged after failing to reach a verdict after more than eight hours of deliberation.
  • Of the seven women lifters, five bagged three gold each, while two others had one each.
  • Violence against women is a fundamental abuse of women's human rights and the scale of the problem is phenomenal.
Scottish  lass, lassie
informal chick, girlie, sister, dame, broad, gal
literary maid, maiden, damsel
archaic wench, gentlewoman
1.1A female worker or employee.
1.2A wife, girlfriend, or lover: he wondered whether Billy had his woman with him
wife, spouse
informal missus, better half, (main) squeeze, babe, baby
1.3 [with adjective or noun modifier] A female person associated with a particular place, activity, or occupation: a young American woman
More example sentences
  • Flora was the young Highland woman who saved the prince by dressing him as her Irish maid and taking him across the sea to Skye.
  • A young gypsy woman entered his caravan and asked if he would be joining them for a meal.
  • The fact that the young Latina woman was less than half his age meant nothing to Webb.
1.4 [in singular] Female adults in general: woman is intuitive
More example sentences
  • Let only the top man or woman be elected by general public and the rest by taxpayers.
  • Sure, the general belief that a woman wants a successful man holds true, but not because of his money.
  • All those things are the tropes of a reductive idea about what is woman and female.
1.5A female paid to clean someone’s house and carry out general domestic duties.
1.6A peremptory form of address to a woman: don’t be daft, woman
More example sentences
  • For God's sake, woman, it's a tweed skirt and a polo neck with a pair of boots.
  • I told you to be home when I get home, little woman.



be one's own woman

see own.

the little woman

A condescending way of referring to a man’s wife.
Example sentences
  • Of course, Sabitha could have been a stay-at-home, following her husband around the State wherever his posting took him, minding the children - a daughter and son - and being the little woman.
  • Sadly, that's not quite the view of some of the dinosaurs in the business world, who still seem to rate top management material according to the credentials of the little woman who irons his shirts and decorates his arm at corporate dinners.
  • They were not for real men, but were the sort of places the little woman would go off to now and then, usually with a girlfriend in tow, and spend a few days messing about with quack therapists and their potions and lotions.

my good woman

British dated A patronizing form of address to a woman: you’re mistaken, my good woman
More example sentences
  • Now, my good woman, could you be so kind as to tell us where the inn of this quaint town is?
  • And Marushka said, ‘Oh, my good woman, how can I go home when my father is unhappy with me?’
  • ‘Very well, my good woman; I know what is proper,’ replied I, assuming an important air.

woman of letters

A female scholar or author.
Example sentences
  • The Académie Goncourt, founded under the will of Edmond de Goncourt, is a body of ten men or women of letters which awards an annual money prize for imaginative prose.
  • And just as we have noted that Weelkes's text authors were men or women of letters, it is now evident that Weelkes himself was as well.
  • ‘The literary’ in turn signifies not high modernist art, but rather the ‘writing practices’ of women of letters at the turn of the twentieth century.

woman of the streets

dated Used euphemistically to refer to a prostitute.
Example sentences
  • It was my job to tend the sick in the hospitals, to advise the women of the streets of their evil ways from the cover of a cowl, to tend the incense and candles in the cathedral.
  • If that does not work, they can become women of the streets.
  • That guy has more wiles than a woman of the streets,’ he thought with disgust.

woman of the world

see world.

woman to woman

In a direct and frank way between two women.
Example sentences
  • While Clery draws lyrical material from her own experiences with the other sex, Lazariuk employs an earthy voice, guitar and rain stick to express the universality of all relationships - man to woman, woman to woman, man to man.
  • Once you confront people, and you sit with them and you have a cup of tea, and they see you are not a monster, and you explain person to person, woman to woman, why things are done and how things are done - it changes a lot, their attitude changes.
  • Finally after months and months we were fighting, woman to woman.



Example sentences
  • Their former captain offers a cynical toast, tweaking that ‘wonderful, abstaining, womanless Führer’ for his brilliant naval strategy, in spite of being an amateur painter by trade.
  • A black Freudian family drama, the play presents the return to his north London home and ostentatiously womanless family of Teddy, an academic, and his wife of six years, Ruth, once a photographic model.
  • I'm 27 years old, not exactly ugly, and womanless.


Pronunciation: /-ˌlīk/
Example sentences
  • Different though Jill and Karen Sprecher may be, they seem to be conducting a womanlike conversation about some of the very same things.
  • At the front of the ship, the figurehead's womanlike face was thrown back in a howl of ecstasy, paws clutching her breasts, wings flared.
  • He relates this factor to the adult Jesus' antipatriarchal behavior and to the fact that the adult Jesus often acted in a womanlike manner.


Old English wīfmon, -man (see wife, man), a formation peculiar to English, the ancient word being wife.

  • In Old English the spelling of woman was wīfmon or wīfman, a combination of wife (which then meant simply ‘woman’) and man (which meant ‘person’), so a woman was a ‘female person’. A woman's work is never done and a woman's place is in the home reflect the traditional view of the sexes. The former was first recorded in 1570, as ‘Some respite to husbands the weather doth send, but housewives' affairs have never no end’. In response to such ideas, during the 1970s and 1980s some feminists decided that the usual plural of woman, women, had to be changed, because it contained men. They used womyn or wimmin, neither of which really caught on. The saying ‘ A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle’ is sometimes credited to the American feminist Gloria Steinem but was probably just an anonymous piece of graffiti.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: wom·an

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