n., pl. wom•en (ˈwɪm ɪn)
1. an adult female person, as distinguished from a girl or a man.
2. a wife.
3. a female lover or sweetheart.
4. a female servant or attendant.
a5. women collectively; womankind.
6. the nature, characteristics, or feelings often attributed to women; womanliness.adj.
7. female: a woman plumber.
[before 900; Middle English womman, wimman, Old English wīfman=wīf female + man human being; see wife, man]
syn: woman, female, lady are nouns referring to adult human beings who are biologically female, that is, capable ofbearing offspring. woman is the general, neutral term: a wealthy woman. In scientific, statistical, and other objectiveuse female is the neutral contrastive term to male: 104 females to every 100 males. female is sometimes useddisparagingly: a gossipy female. lady in the sense “polite, refined woman” is a term of approval: We know you willalways behave like a lady.
usage: 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 Associationof University Women. woman is the standard parallel to man. When modifying a plural noun, woman, like man,becomes plural: women athletes; women students. The use of lady as a term of courtesy has diminished somewhatin recent years, although it still survives in a few set phrases (ladies' room; Ladies' Day). lady is also used, butdecreasingly, 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.
a combining form of woman: chairwoman; forewoman; spokeswoman.
usage: Compounds ending in -woman commonly correspond to the masculine compounds in -man: councilman,councilwoman; congressman, congresswoman. The current practice, esp. in 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. Often, a sex-neutralterm is used; for example, council member rather than either councilman or councilwoman; representatives orlegislators rather than congressmen. See also -man, -person.