Definition of woman in English:



  • 1An adult human female.

    ‘a jury of seven women and five men’
    [as modifier] ‘a woman doctor’
    • ‘The reality is that this debate is about the fundamental human rights of women.’
    • ‘It sets the stage for the adult lives of women, who no doubt grew up dreaming like Mallika.’
    • ‘Adult men and women are deemed to be equal in the administration of Australian justice.’
    • ‘In the ad, five women sit in the stands and praise an adult male for showing up to watch his son's game.’
    • ‘From age twelve she is obligated to comply with all the demands placed on adult women.’
    • ‘Medical examination found that the amount of oestrogen in his body had reached that of adult women.’
    • ‘Of the seven women lifters, five bagged three gold each, while two others had one each.’
    • ‘I was able to talk - this might sound silly to you - talk to adult men and women face to face.’
    • ‘Several Jewish women who work for human rights are making their objections heard.’
    • ‘For a fourth straight month, the number of jobs increased for both adult women and adult men.’
    • ‘It's not a conspiracy, it's called human nature, and women are not the only victims.’
    • ‘The fact is that the seven men and women who died were shining examples of how great the human race can be.’
    • ‘Some places are still available in the Oral Irish Class, for adult men and women.’
    • ‘Violence against women is a fundamental abuse of women's human rights and the scale of the problem is phenomenal.’
    • ‘The course is open to mature adults, particularly women, who wish to return to the workforce.’
    • ‘Approximately two in five men and one in seven women in Scotland now drink so heavily that it is hazardous to their health.’
    • ‘The jury of seven women and five men were discharged after failing to reach a verdict after more than eight hours of deliberation.’
    • ‘This is one of the first rites of passage toward acceptance into the adult society of women.’
    • ‘The idea that women are real human beings with thoughts and emotions is played down.’
    • ‘It is probable that adult women gain much of their contemporary exposure to computer games at work.’
    lady, girl, member of the fair sex, member of the gentle sex, female
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[with modifier]A female person associated with a particular place, activity, or occupation.
      ‘one of his sophisticated London women’
      • ‘He also pointed to the large number of families made up of young mainland women who married older Hong Kong men.’
      • ‘My wife and another Danish woman set up a shop in Blackrock, which sold designs made by Lisbeth.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Occasionally it would wonder why young professional women don't find it attractive.’
      • ‘Young career women are more likely to demand things like flextime and less overtime from employers.’
      • ‘It's a car for relatively young professional women who have climbed the career ladder and who don't have children.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Or even as a working class woman in Bradford, reliant on the creaky National Health Service.’
      • ‘Any Inuk woman in Canada may nominate any other Inuk woman in Canada for each of those positions.’
      • ‘Whether it is a working class woman or someone who is very rich, they all have grace and confidence.’
      • ‘Ms September will embody the professional, intelligent yet sexy career woman.’
      • ‘As it turns out, Baker has a really firm handle on a certain kind of working class woman.’
      • ‘Miranda was the true career woman so they picked her to get pregnant and look how miserable they've made her.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This disturbing trend for young white women to leap onstage is just not on.’
      • ‘One is a predictable and unfulfilling entanglement with a South African woman.’
      • ‘The fact that the young Latina woman was less than half his age meant nothing to Webb.’
      • ‘Sadly, many women made the mistake of opting for the lower married woman's stamp and lived to regret it.’
      • ‘He was one of the first historians to analyse the activities of peasant women as a separate category.’
    2. 1.2A 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.’
    3. 1.3A female worker or employee.
    4. 1.4A female who is paid to clean someone's house and carry out other domestic duties.
      ‘a daily woman’
      cleaning woman, cleaner, domestic help, domestic, maid
      View synonyms
    5. 1.5A man's wife, girlfriend, or lover.
      ‘he wondered whether Billy had his woman with him’
      girlfriend, girl, sweetheart, partner, significant other, inamorata, fiancée
      View synonyms


  • be one's own woman

  • the little woman

    • A condescending way of referring to one's wife.

      ‘male fisherfolk who take their catch home for the little woman to gut’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Sorry the little woman got scared, but pour yourselves some drinks and try to have a chuckle about it, like the rest of us.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Mel's birthday was the next day and what did Antonio get his little woman?’
      • ‘The cheerful little woman cooked, washed, ironed, cleaned, looked after the children and waited on her husband.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘So, the chump is scared of me and his little woman is handling his affairs.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Often dismissed as Joyce's little woman, Nora emerges in Murphy's film as his easy equal, in force of character if not education.’
  • my good woman

    • dated A patronizing form of address to a woman.

      ‘you're mistaken, my good woman’
      • ‘Little Snow-white looked out of the window and called out, ‘Good-day my good woman, what have you to sell?’’
      • ‘But this advice comes too late for you, my dear woman, and we must deal with the situation at hand.’
      • ‘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!’’
      • ‘And Marushka said, ‘Oh, my good woman, how can I go home when my father is unhappy with me?’’
      • ‘‘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?’’
      • ‘Now, my good woman, could you be so kind as to tell us where the inn of this quaint town is?’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘‘Very well, my good woman; I know what is proper,’ replied I, assuming an important air.’
  • woman of letters

    • A female scholar or author.

      • ‘The rebellion was, as all biographers agree, necessary that the woman of letters might emerge.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Fuller was America's first public intellectual woman of letters.’
      • ‘She was determined to remake herself as a woman of 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You are obviously a woman of letters, but do you know anything about a car's engine?’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘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, euphemistic A prostitute.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If that does not work, they can become women of the streets.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘That guy has more wiles than a woman of the streets,’ he thought with disgust.’
      • ‘True, if she was a woman of the streets, he would be mad at her, but he'd forgive her.’
  • woman of the world

  • woman to woman

    • In a direct and frank way between two women.

      ‘Alice smiled at her, woman to woman’
      [as modifier] ‘the hands-on, woman-to-woman relationship’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Should she speak to me woman to woman, or enemy to enemy?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If you really want to help her, you will help by example - talking about your own experience woman to woman, friend to friend.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Finally after months and months we were fighting, woman to woman.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She also wanted to talk, woman to woman, about how the day went.’


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