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woman (n.)

“成年女性人类”, 古英语晚期 wimman, wiman (复数 wimmen), 字面意思是“女人-男人”, 是 wifman (复数 wifmen) “女人, 女性仆人” (8世纪) 的变体, 是 wif “女人” (见 wife) + man “人类” (在古英语中用于指男女, 见 man (n.) 的复合词. 比较荷兰语 vrouwmens “妻子”, 字面意思是“女人-男人”.

It is notable that it was thought necessary to join wif, a neuter noun, representing a female person, to man, a masc. noun representing either a male or female person, to form a word denoting a female person exclusively. [Century Dictionary]

这种形成是英语和荷兰语所特有的. 取代旧英语 wifquean, 作为“女性人类” 的词. 在中古英语中, 受 -w- 的圆滑影响, 单数的发音有所改变; 复数则保留了原来的元音. 意思是“妻子”, 现在主要限于美国方言使用, 从15世纪中叶开始有证据表明.

在美国英语中, lady “在松散的, 特别礼貌的用法中, 是指一个女人” [Craigie, 《美国英语词典》]. 这种特殊性被英国旅行者多有评论; 在美国, 这种习俗被认为是特别的南方习俗, 但英国人并不屑于做漂亮的区分, 只把它看作是美国式的. “这个高贵的词[女人], 在英国人听来精神激荡, 但在美国却被放逐了, 用'女士'和'女性'来代替; 对英国人的口味来说, 一个是猥琐和粗俗的; 另一个是不明确和粗俗的. 效果是奇怪的.” [Harriet Martineau, 1837年]

Woman-hater “厌恶女人” 是从17世纪开始的. Women's work 被认为适合女性的“厌女症”, 是1660年代的. Women's liberation 从1966年开始被证实. women's rights 是从1840年, 与一个孤立的例子在1630年代.

Origin and meaning of woman

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Definitions of woman from WordNet

woman (n.)
an adult female person (as opposed to a man);
the woman kept house while the man hunted
Synonyms: adult female
woman (n.)
a female person who plays a significant role (wife or mistress or girlfriend) in the life of a particular man;
he was faithful to his woman
woman (n.)
a human female employed to do housework;
I have a woman who comes in four hours a day while I write
Synonyms: charwoman / char / cleaning woman / cleaning lady
woman (n.)
women as a class;
woman is the glory of creation
Synonyms: womanhood / fair sex
From wordnet.princeton.edu