wom•an(wŏŏm′ən),USA pronunciationn., pl.wom•en(wim′in),USA pronunciationv., adj. n.
Sex and Genderthe female human being (distinguished from man).
Sex and Genderan adult female person.
a female attendant to a lady of rank.
the nature, characteristics, or feelings often attributed to women; womanliness.
Sex and Gendera sweetheart or paramour; mistress.
a female employee or representative:A woman from the real estate agency called.
Sex and Gendera female person who cleans house, cooks, etc.; housekeeper:The woman will be in to clean today.
women collectively:Woman is no longer subordinate to man.
be one's own woman, (of females) to be free from restrictions, control, or dictatorial influence; be independent.
to put into the company of a woman.
to equip or staff with women.
[Obs.]to cause to act or yield like a woman.
of women; womanly.
female:a woman plumber.
bef. 900; Middle English womman, wimman, Old English wīfman, equivalent. to wīf female + man human being; see wife,man1
Woman,female,lady are nouns referring to adult human beings who are biologically female; that is, capable of bearing offspring. 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.
2. 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.
Pronounsa combining form of woman:chairwoman; forewoman; spokeswoman.
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 members of both sexes are involved. Instead, a sex-neutral term is used:council membersrather than councilmen and councilwomen; representative or legislator rather than congressman or congresswoman. See also chairperson, -man, -person.