Definition of woman in English:



  • 1An adult human female.

    • ‘From age twelve she is obligated to comply with all the demands placed on adult women.’
    • ‘The idea that women are real human beings with thoughts and emotions is played down.’
    • ‘Some places are still available in the Oral Irish Class, for adult men and women.’
    • ‘The course is open to mature adults, particularly women, who wish to return to the workforce.’
    • ‘This is one of the first rites of passage toward acceptance into the adult society of women.’
    • ‘Adult men and women are deemed to be equal in the administration of Australian justice.’
    • ‘Violence against women is a fundamental abuse of women's human rights and the scale of the problem is phenomenal.’
    • ‘For a fourth straight month, the number of jobs increased for both adult women and adult men.’
    • ‘The jury of seven women and five men were discharged after failing to reach a verdict after more than eight hours of deliberation.’
    • ‘In the ad, five women sit in the stands and praise an adult male for showing up to watch his son's game.’
    • ‘Of the seven women lifters, five bagged three gold each, while two others had one each.’
    • ‘It is probable that adult women gain much of their contemporary exposure to computer games at work.’
    • ‘I was able to talk - this might sound silly to you - talk to adult men and women face to face.’
    • ‘The reality is that this debate is about the fundamental human rights of women.’
    • ‘Several Jewish women who work for human rights are making their objections heard.’
    • ‘It sets the stage for the adult lives of women, who no doubt grew up dreaming like Mallika.’
    • ‘Approximately two in five men and one in seven women in Scotland now drink so heavily that it is hazardous to their health.’
    • ‘Medical examination found that the amount of oestrogen in his body had reached that of adult women.’
    • ‘The fact is that the seven men and women who died were shining examples of how great the human race can be.’
    • ‘It's not a conspiracy, it's called human nature, and women are not the only victims.’
    lady, girl, member of the fair sex, member of the gentle sex, female
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    1. 1.1A female worker or employee.
    2. 1.2A wife, girlfriend, or lover.
      ‘he wondered whether Billy had his woman with him’
      girlfriend, girl, sweetheart, partner, significant other, inamorata, fiancée
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    3. 1.3[with adjective or noun modifier]A female person associated with a particular place, activity, or occupation.
      ‘a young American woman’
      • ‘He was one of the first historians to analyse the activities of peasant women as a separate category.’
      • ‘This disturbing trend for young white women to leap onstage is just not on.’
      • ‘It's a car for relatively young professional women who have climbed the career ladder and who don't have children.’
      • ‘Occasionally it would wonder why young professional women don't find it attractive.’
      • ‘Miranda was the true career woman so they picked her to get pregnant and look how miserable they've made her.’
      • ‘Ms September will embody the professional, intelligent yet sexy career woman.’
      • ‘One is a predictable and unfulfilling entanglement with a South African woman.’
      • ‘The obeah woman gave her associate an igloo and told him to go and buy some bags of ice from a gas station in the next parish.’
      • ‘Whether it is a working class woman or someone who is very rich, they all have grace and confidence.’
      • ‘As it turns out, Baker has a really firm handle on a certain kind of working class woman.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Sadly, many women made the mistake of opting for the lower married woman's stamp and lived to regret it.’
      • ‘He also pointed to the large number of families made up of young mainland women who married older Hong Kong men.’
      • ‘The fact that the young Latina woman was less than half his age meant nothing to Webb.’
      • ‘Young career women are more likely to demand things like flextime and less overtime from employers.’
      • ‘A young gypsy woman entered his caravan and asked if he would be joining them for a meal.’
      • ‘Yesterday a West Indian woman dies of a heart attack while police raided her house in Tottenham.’
      • ‘Any Inuk woman in Canada may nominate any other Inuk woman in Canada for each of those positions.’
      • ‘My wife and another Danish woman set up a shop in Blackrock, which sold designs made by Lisbeth.’
      • ‘Or even as a working class woman in Bradford, reliant on the creaky National Health Service.’
    4. 1.4[in singular]Female adults in general.
      ‘woman is intuitive’
      • ‘Sorry, but I am an old fashioned woman who believes that this is a job that belongs to the men.’
      • ‘The chance of complications depends on the exact procedure and other factors such as the woman's general health.’
      • ‘These include a woman's age and general health, as well as the exact type and stage of cancer.’
      • ‘What kind of woman wants a man like that, especially when the deal for her is to be the servant?’
      • ‘Let only the top man or woman be elected by general public and the rest by taxpayers.’
      • ‘These artificial aids only worsen the condition if a woman's general health is bad.’
      • ‘Sure, the general belief that a woman wants a successful man holds true, but not because of his money.’
      • ‘Nobody is thinking about what does the man and woman in the street think about that.’
      • ‘Now that the internet has empowered any man or woman to have a voice, the truth can be found.’
      • ‘I thought Catholic Faith would insist the Church is the road man and woman must walk.’
      • ‘There is no draft in this country and every single man and woman in uniform chose to wear one.’
      • ‘Now, as a general psychological theory about men and woman this is rather questionable!’
      • ‘All those things are the tropes of a reductive idea about what is woman and female.’
    5. 1.5A female paid to clean someone's house and carry out general domestic duties.
      cleaning woman, cleaner, domestic help, domestic, maid
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    6. 1.6A peremptory form of address to a woman.
      ‘don't be daft, woman’
      • ‘I told you to be home when I get home, little woman.’
      • ‘For God's sake, woman, it's a tweed skirt and a polo neck with a pair of boots.’


  • be one's own woman

  • the little woman

    • A condescending way of referring to a man's wife.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The guy can pretend to be all macho and manly, be protective of the little woman, and then when it's really needed you can't rely on them cause they're too busy off in the corner crying like a baby.’
      • ‘If some disaffected street urchin adopted the tone on the train home, a manly Bunyip would shield the little woman with his body and prepare to wield a menacing umbrella.’
      • ‘Often dismissed as Joyce's little woman, Nora emerges in Murphy's film as his easy equal, in force of character if not education.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Sorry the little woman got scared, but pour yourselves some drinks and try to have a chuckle about it, like the rest of us.’
      • ‘So, the chump is scared of me and his little woman is handling his affairs.’
      • ‘The cheerful little woman cooked, washed, ironed, cleaned, looked after the children and waited on her husband.’
      • ‘Mel's birthday was the next day and what did Antonio get his little woman?’
  • my good woman

    • dated A patronizing form of address to a woman.

      ‘you're mistaken, my good woman’
      • ‘But this advice comes too late for you, my dear woman, and we must deal with the situation at hand.’
      • ‘He examined them all, lifted them up and smelled them, and said at last: ‘This jam seems good, weigh me four ounces of it, my good woman; and even if it's a quarter of a pound I won't stick at it.’’
      • ‘The soldiers looked up and replied, ‘Stone soup, my good woman, a wondrous dish and so, so much better if we were to have a single onion or two to drop herein!’’
      • ‘Little Snow-white looked out of the window and called out, ‘Good-day my good woman, what have you to sell?’’
      • ‘And Marushka said, ‘Oh, my good woman, how can I go home when my father is unhappy with me?’’
      • ‘Now, my good woman, could you be so kind as to tell us where the inn of this quaint town is?’
      • ‘‘Very well, my good woman; I know what is proper,’ replied I, assuming an important air.’
      • ‘‘Wait a bit, my good woman,’ says he, ‘and see what I have to say to you when I get home.’’
      • ‘Mr. Fogg took out the twenty guineas he had just won at whist, and handed them to the beggar, saying, ‘Here, my good woman.’’
      • ‘Then Judge Tyler stepped forward: ‘What would you say, my good woman, if I were to tell you that Patrick Henry fled with the rest of us?’’
  • woman of letters

    • A female scholar or author.

      • ‘The rebellion was, as all biographers agree, necessary that the woman of letters might emerge.’
      • ‘She was determined to remake herself as a woman of letters.’
      • ‘Already a famous woman of letters who had written A Treatise on the Influence of the Passions on the Happiness of Individuals and Nations, she became his companion for twelve years.’
      • ‘Is it then just women of letters, and of a certain income, like Enright and Cusk, who have the luxury of such a complex reaction to motherhood?’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘Based on the model of Susanna Haswell Rowson, a predecessor of Hentz's as an American woman of letters, the play was entitled De Lara; or, the Moorish Bride: A Tragedy in Five Acts.’
      • ‘You are obviously a woman of letters, but do you know anything about a car's engine?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Fuller was America's first public intellectual woman of letters.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They were literally men and women of letters and the group was tied together, not only by their emotional connections and daily conversations, but also by the writing of journals and letters.’
      • ‘It's difficult to tell, but perhaps we could have expected a woman of letters, whose name adorns the cover of the 1997 novel Swan, to grasp the Shavian reference.’
  • woman of the streets

    • dated Used euphemistically to refer to a prostitute.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Formerly a woman of the streets, elevated by Count Chabert to the status of Countess, his wife used his lands and fortune to marry into the aristocracy.’
      • ‘True, if she was a woman of the streets, he would be mad at her, but he'd forgive her.’
      • ‘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

  • woman to woman

    • In a direct and frank way between two women.

      • ‘Finally after months and months we were fighting, woman to woman.’
      • ‘Our story starts as Shirley picks up the phone to confront Barbara - woman to woman.’
      • ‘She had some advice for me about giving birth, woman to woman.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She told me she's enamored with the idea of someday sitting down at a cafe with Seana, chatting woman to woman, as they both smoke.’
      • ‘She also wanted to talk, woman to woman, about how the day went.’
      • ‘Should she speak to me woman to woman, or enemy to enemy?’
      • ‘I just wanted to have, well, a chat, man to man, woman to woman, bairn to bairn as I'm sure they put it doon the Wallygate.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If you really want to help her, you will help by example - talking about your own experience woman to woman, friend to friend.’


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