Entries linking to womankind
"adult female human," late Old English wimman, wiman (plural wimmen), literally "woman-man," alteration of wifman (plural wifmen) "woman, female servant" (8c.), a compound of wif "woman" (see wife) + man "human being" (in Old English used in reference to both sexes; see man (n.)). Compare Dutch vrouwmens "wife," literally "woman-man."
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]
The formation is peculiar to English and Dutch. Replaced older Old English wif and quean as the word for "female human being," as in Jesus's answer to his mother, in Anglo-Saxon gospels la, wif, hwæt is me and þe? (John ii:4 "Woman, what have I to do with thee?").
The pronunciation of the singular altered in Middle English by the rounding influence of -w-; the plural retains the original vowel. Meaning "wife," now largely restricted to U.S. dialectal use, is attested from mid-15c.
In American English, lady is "In loose and especially polite usage, a woman" [Craigie, "Dictionary of American English"]. This peculiarity was much commented upon by English travelers; in the U.S. the custom was considered especially Southern, but the English didn't bother with nice distinctions and regarded it simply as American. "This noble word [woman], spirit-stirring as it passes over English ears, is in America banished, and 'ladies' and 'females' substituted; the one to English taste mawkish and vulgar; the other indistinctive and gross. The effect is odd." [Harriet Martineau, 1837]
Woman-hater "misogynist" is from c. 1600. Women's work, that considered appropriate to women, is from 1660s. Women's liberation is attested from 1966; women's rights is from 1840, with an isolated example in 1630s.
"class, sort, variety," from Old English gecynd "kind, nature, race," related to cynn "family" (see kin), from Proto-Germanic *kundjaz "family, race," from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget," with derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups.
Ælfric's rendition of "the Book of Genesis" into Old English came out gecyndboc. The prefix disappeared 1150-1250. No exact cognates beyond English, but it corresponds to adjective endings such as Goth -kunds, Old High German -kund. Also in English as a suffix (mankind, etc., also compare godcund "divine"). Other earlier, now obsolete, senses included "character, quality derived from birth" and "manner or way natural or proper to anyone."
Phrase a kind of (1590s) indicating something like or similar to something else led to the colloquial extension as adverb (1804) in phrases such as kind of stupid "a kind of stupid (person), (one) not far from stupidity." However "good usage" once condemned as inaccurate the use as an adjective as in our kind of people, some kind of joke. All kinds is Old English alles cynnes, in Middle English sometimes contracted to alkins.
updated on April 08, 2014