Definition of woman noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈwʊmən//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈwʊmən//
    (pl. women
    BrE BrE//ˈwɪmɪn//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈwɪmɪn//
    Middle age
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  1. 1  [countable] an adult female human men, women and children a 24-year-old woman I prefer to see a woman doctor. women drivers See related entries: Middle age
  2. 2[uncountable] female humans in general (informal) She's all woman! (= has qualities that are typical of women)
  3. 3[countable] (in compounds) a woman who comes from the place mentioned or whose job or interest is connected with the thing mentioned an Englishwoman a businesswoman a Congresswoman a horsewoman More AboutgenderWays of talking about men and women When you are writing or speaking English it is important to use language that includes both men and women equally. Some people may be very offended if you do not.The human race Man and mankind have traditionally been used to mean ‘all men and women’. Many people now prefer to use humanity, the human race, human beings or people.Jobs The suffix -ess in names of occupations such as actress, hostess and waitress shows that the person doing the job is a woman. Many people now avoid these. Instead you can use actor or host (although actress and hostess are still very common), or a neutral word, such as server for waiter and waitress. Neutral words like assistant, worker, person or officer are now often used instead of -man or -woman in the names of jobs. For example, you can use police officer instead of policeman or policewoman, and spokesperson instead of spokesman or spokeswoman. Neutral words are very common in newspapers, on television and radio and in official writing, in both British English and North American English. When talking about jobs that are traditionally done by the other sex, some people say: a male secretary/nurse/model (NOT man) or a woman/female doctor/barrister/driver. However this is now not usually used unless you need to emphasize which sex the person is, or it is still unusual for the job to be done by a man/​woman: My daughter prefers to see a woman doctor.They have a male nanny for their kids.a female racing driverPronouns He used to be considered to cover both men and women: Everyone needs to feel he is loved. This is not now acceptable. Instead, after everybody, everyone, anybody, anyone, somebody, someone, etc. one of the plural pronouns they, them, and their is often used: Does everybody know what they want?Somebody’s left their coat here.I hope nobody’s forgotten to bring their passport with them. Some people prefer to use he or she, his or her, or him or her in speech and writing: Everyone knows what’s best for him- or herself. He/​she or (s)he can also be used in writing: If in doubt, ask your doctor. He/​she can give you more information. (You may find that some writers just use ‘she’.) These uses can seem awkward when they are used a lot. It is better to try to change the sentence, using a plural noun. Instead of saying: A baby cries when he or she is tired you can say Babies cry when they are tired.
  4. 4[countable] a female worker, especially one who works with her hands We used to have a woman to do the cleaning.
  5. 5[singular] (old-fashioned) a rude way of addressing a female person in an angry or important way Be quiet, woman!
  6. 6[countable] (sometimes disapproving) a wife or sexual partner He's got a new woman in his life. see also fallen woman, kept woman, other woman
  7. Word OriginOld English wīfmon, -man (see wife, man), a formation peculiar to English, the ancient word being wife.Extra examples Jean Menkes plays the president’s wife and Fiona Handley plays the other woman. Older women often have difficulty conceiving. She was the ‘other woman’ in this family drama= the one the husband was having an affair with. The freedom to wear trousers became a symbol of women’s liberation. The little girl she remembered was now a grown woman. The thief tricked his way into an elderly woman’s home. There were important changes in the position of women in society. We want to change the way women are depicted in the media. Women are limited to the more poorly paid jobs. Women are reduced to merely playing a passive role. a United Nations report on violence against women a hostel for battered women a professor of women’s studies highly educated women who are successful in business Alcohol affects men and women differently. The drug carries a warning against use by pregnant women. Two elderly women were sat at the next table.Idioms to act or think independently, not following others or being ordered Working for herself meant that she could be her own woman.
    hell hath no fury (like a woman scorned)
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    used to refer to somebody, usually a woman, who has reacted very angrily to something, especially the fact that her husband or lover has been unfaithful
    like a man/woman possessed, like one possessed
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    with a lot of force or energy He flew out of the room like a man possessed.
    make an honest woman of somebody
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    (old-fashioned, humorous) to marry a woman after having had a sexual relationship with her
    a man/woman after your own heart
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    a man/woman who likes the same things or has the same opinions as you
    the man (and/or woman) in the street
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    an average or ordinary person, either male or female Politicians often don't understand the views of the man in the street.
    a man/woman of (many) parts
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    a person with many skills
    a man/woman of substance
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    (formal) a rich and powerful man or woman
    a man/woman of the world
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    a person with a lot of experience of life, who is not easily surprised or shocked
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: woman