From the second edition (1989):
woman, n.
(ˈwʊmən) Pl. women (ˈwɪmɪn). Forms (case-inflexions in OE. and early ME. as in man n.1): sing. α. 1–5 wifman, 2–3 -mon, 2–4 wimman, (3 wim(m)on, wyman), 3–4 wymman, 3– 5 wymmon (4 wyfman). β. 3 wummon, 3–5 wumman. δ. 3–5 womman, wommon, 4–6 voman, 5 vomman, woman(n)e, 5–6 wommane, 7 whoman, (also 9 dial.) wooman, 3– woman. γ. 5 oman, 6 owman (?), 7 Anglo-Welsh o'man, 7–9 uman, 9 'ooman, umman. pl. α. 1–4 wifmen, 1–4, 8 wimmen, 3–5 wymmen, (4 wyfmen, wimen, wemmen, 4–5 wymen, 5 vymmen, 7 Anglo-Welsh ymen). β. 3–4 wummen. γ. 3–5 wommen, 5 womene, vommen, woymen, 6–7 woemen, 4– women. δ. 4 Sc. vemene, 4–7 wemen, 5 wemyn, whemen, weymen, 5–7 weomen, 6 vemen, 6–7 weemen, 7 weamen. [OE. wífmon(n, -man(n masc., later fem., pl. wífmen(n, f. wíf woman, wife n. + mon(n, man(n human being, man n.1 A formation peculiar to English, and not extant in the earliest period of OE., the ancient word being wife.
The regular ME. descendants of OE. wífman, -men, viz. wimman, wimmen (cf. OE. léofman, ME. lemman, leman) continued in use until the 15th century. By c 1200 the rounding of wi- to wu- is clearly established, and is at that time characteristic of western ME. texts. The form womman appears in the late 13th century (first in western texts), and the corresponding pl. wommen in the late 14th. The simplification of mm in womman, -en and wimman, -en, and the consequent conversion of the first syllable into an open syllable gave rise to forms with ō and ē, which, continuing to the early modern period, provided the occasion for punning analyses of wōman and wēmen (see 1k below). From c1400 woman and women became regular spellings for sing. and pl., and have been retained as a properly corresponding pair to man and men; but in the standard speech the pronunciation (wu-) was ultimately appropriated to the sing. and (wi-) to the pl., probably through the associative influence of pairs like foot and feet.


From at least the 16th century, the only variety in the pronunciation of the pl. has been in respect of the quantity of the first vowel, which was either short or long in the 16th and 17th centuries; but in the same period no less than five pronunciations of the sing. are recognized by orthoepists, viz. (ˈwʊmən), (ˈwuːmən), (ˈwʌmən), and (ˈʊmən), (ˈʌmən), of which all but the first have now sunk to vulgar or dialectal status.


Examples of the δ-forms of the sing., without initial w, follow here; for illustration of the more normal forms see sense 1.


?1455 Paston Lett.. I. 343 Youre pore bede oman and cosyn, Alice Crane. 1558 Charnock Bk. Astron. Title of Chapter (MS.) Is the theffe man or owman or bothe? 1623 Shakes. Merry W. iv. i. 52 Eua. Leaue your prables (o'man)‥. Eua. O'man, forbeare. 1632 Nabbes Cov. Gard. v. ii, Your Ladiships uman. 1749 Fielding Tom Jones xv. x, When her Laship was so veri kind as to offar to mak mee hur one Uman. 1808 Jamieson, Uman, the pron. of woman. 1837 Dickens Pickw. xiii, Putting on his spectacles to look at a married 'ooman! 1838 Jas. Grant Sk. Lond. 69 Bad luck to the 'ooman! 1898 G. W. E. Russell Coll. & Recoll. 14 Like other high-bred people of his time, he [sc. Lord John Russell]‥called a woman an ‘'ooman’.]


I. 1. a. An adult female human being. (The context may or may not have special reference to sex or to adult age: cf. man n.1 4 a, c, d.)
†man or (or and) woman used appositionally = male or (and) female.

sing. α c893 Ælfred Oros. iii. vi. §2 Minutia hatte an wifmon, þe on heora wisan sceolde nunne beon. c1000 Ælfric Gen. ii. 22 God‥eworhte ðæt rib, ðe he enam of Adame, to anum wifmen. —— Judges iv. 22 Ða clipode seo wimman cuðlice him to. c1175 Lamb. Hom. 15 Ȝif þa laȝe weren nu, nalde na mon mis-don wið oðre, ne wepmon ne wifmon ne meiden. c1200 Trin. Coll. Hom. 133 Þe lif holi wimman sarra. a1250 Owl & Night. 1357 If wymmon þencheþ luuye derne. c1290 S. Eng. Leg. 486/53 Com ageyn & bring this swyn a-now To this pore wifman. c1300 Havelok 1156 Þe fayrest wymman under mone. 13‥ K. Horn 552 (Harl. MS.) Er ne he eny wyf take Oþer wyþ wymmon forewart make. 1340 Ayenb. 31 He‥zayþ to þe manne and to þe wyfmanne [etc.].
β a1225 Ancr. R. 12 Hwarse wummon liueð oðer mon bi him one. Ibid. 58 Þis is a swuðe dredlich word to wummen þet scheaweð hire to wepmones eien. a1240 Ureisun in O.E. Hom. I. 191 Nis no wummon iboren þet ðe beo iliche. 13‥ Coer de L. 3863 Man, wumman, every Sarasyn. 1499 Promp. Parv. 534/2 (ed. Pynson), Wumman.
γ c1275 Lay. 2237 Womman [c 1205 wifmon] þou hart hende. 1297 R. Glouc. (Rolls) 211 Al vor a woman Þat heleine was icluped þis bataile verst bigan. a1300 Cursor M. 9000 Foluand a wicked womman will. Ibid. 20285 Quils scho spac þus, þat suet woman,‥saint iohan‥com. 1362 Langl. P. Pl. A. viii. 74 Þei weddeþ no wommon þat þei with deleþ. 14‥ in Rel. Ant. I. 275 To onpreyse womene yt were a shame, For a womane was thy dame. 1476 Stonor Papers (Camden) II. 7 And yff ye wold be a good etter off your mete allwaye, that ye myght waxe and grow ffast to be a woman. 1546 in J. Bulloch Pynours (1887) 63 Euery pynour baytht man and voman. 1588 Shakes. L.L.L. iv. i. 125 One‥that was a woman when Queene Guinouer of Brittaine was a little wench. 1591 —— Two Gent. iv. iv. 165 Our youth got me to play the womans part, And I was trim'd in Madam Iulias gowne. 1667 Dryden & Dk. Newc. Sir M. Mar-all iii. (1668) 26 A Woman's in a sad condition, that has nothing to trust to, but a Perriwig above, and a well-trim'd shoe below. 1697 Congreve Mourn. Bride iii. ad. fin., Heav'n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn'd, Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn'd. 1735 Pope Ep. Lady 216 Men, some to Bus'ness, some to Pleasure take; But every Woman is at heart a Rake. 1780 J. Brown Toleration (1803) 81 No ecclesiastical power can reside in a heathen, a woman, or a child. 1804 Wordsw. ‘She was a Phantom’ 27 A perfect Woman, nobly planned, To warn, to comfort, and command. 1818 Byron Juan i. lxi, Her stature tall—I hate a dumpy woman. 1835 Hook G. Gurney vii. in New Mo. Mag. XLIV. 18 A girl of seventeen is a woman, when a man of seventeen is a boy. 1867 Act 30 & 31 Vict. c. 130 §3 In this Act‥‘Woman’ shall mean a Female of the Age of Eighteen Years or upwards. 1887 Act 50 & 51 Vict. c. 58 §75 In this Act‥‘Woman’ means a female of the age of sixteen years or upwards. 1889 ‘J. S. Winter’ Mrs. Bob v, A girl she was not, but a woman of at least nine and twenty.
pl. α c900 tr. Bæda's Hist. iii. v. (1890) 162 e wæpnedmen e wimmen. c1000 Christ's Descent 48 Wifmonna þreat, fela fæmnena. 1154 O.E. Chron. (Laud MS.) an. 1137 Þa namen hi‥carl-men and wimmen & diden heom in prisun. c1200 Trin. Coll. Hom. 215 Ȝif þe hodede wliteð mid stefne for to liken wimmannen. c1290 John 196 in S. Eng. Leg. 408 Twelf þousend Men‥With-oute children and wimmen. 1297 R. Glouc. (Rolls) 2753 Ofte in wimmen [v.rr. wimmane, wommannes, wommanys, wommens] fourme hii comeþ to men al so. a1300 Cursor M. 7044, Zamazims‥Þe wimmen land wit-outen man. a1300 K. Horn 67 Of alle wymmane [v.r. wimmenne] Wurst was godhild þanne. 13‥ Cursor M. 24644 (Edin.) Wit oþir wimen þat him soht. 1340 Ayenb. 10 To habbe uelaȝrede ulesslich mid wyfmen. c1375 Cursor M. 8583 heading, How ij. wemmen ware iugged for a childe þe tane slogh in hir bedde. 1470–85 Malory Arthur ii. vii. 83 For her sake I shal owe al wymmen the better loue. c1500 God speed the plough 87 Wymen commeth weping on the same Maner. c1620 Welsh Embass. iv. 1509 (Malone Soc.) Our valliant Comragues‥so fright the ymen that [etc.]. 1790 Mrs. Wheeler Westmld. Dial. 60 What is cum amang Wimmen an Lasses E this Parish?
β c1205 Lay. 11718 Æc heo nomen wummen wunder ane monie. a1240 Ureisun in O.E. Hom. I. 191 Þu ert briht and blisful ouer alle wummen. 13‥ Cursor M. 23451 (Gött.) Man [has] gret liking‥On wummen fair for to bihald.
γ 1340–70 Alex. & Dind. 1016 Ȝoure fingrus of fin gold ȝe fullen wiþ ryngus, As is wommenus wone for wordliche glose. c1386 Chaucer Melib. ⁋91 Of alle wommen good womman foond I neuere. 1390 Gower Conf. I. 58 Of body bothe and of visage Lik unto wommen of yong age. c1400 Mandeville (1839) xiii. 143 Amazoyne, that is the Lond of Femynye, where that no man is, but only alle Wommen. c1430 Lydg. Min. Poems (Percy Soc.) 46 Here gynneth a dyté of women~his hornys. c1449 Pecock Repr. i. xx. 119 Bi wering of wommennys couercheefis. c1450 Mirk's Festial 22 All good men and woymen. c1450 Cursor M. 10528 (Laud) Ouyr alle women to bere croun. 1553 Respublica 1454 Men shoulde kysse woomen. 1573 L. Lloyd Pilgr. Princes (1586) 55b, The fiftie virgins‥certaine‥baites being set of purpose by the gentlemen of Messena for their virginities, and now readie‥being then maides, to bee made women that night. 1596 Dalrymple tr. Leslie's Hist. Scot. v. (S.T.S.) I. 290 Woemen quha had vowet chastitie. 1611 Coryat Crudities 247 (Venice), I saw women acte, a thing that I neuer saw before. 1753–4 Richardson Grandison II. viii. 51 Girls are said to be sooner women than boys are men. 1818 Shelley Julian 592 Like one of Shakespeare's women. 1874 Hardy Far from Madding Crowd xxv, They were already loading hay, the women raking it into cocks, and windrows. 1904 M. Pemberton Red Morn viii, The women first, and one by one.‥ If any man goes out of his turn, I will shoot him like a dog.
δ 1375 Barbour Bruce iii. 734 Men mycht her wemen hely cry. c1375 Sc. Leg. Saints x. (Mathou) 347 Mariage‥To cople men & vemene. c1400 Destr. Troy 8056 Hit is a propertie apreuit‥To all wemen in the world‥To be vnstable. Ibid. 10904 The wemyn‥welt hom to ground with swappis of hor swordes. 1456 Cov. Leet Bk. 288 Most excellent princes of weymen mortall. 1503–4 Rec. St. Mary at Hill (1904) 252 For the makkyng of the nev vemens pevys. 1512 Wriothesley Chron. (Camden) I. 8 Servantes, prentises, weomen, and all other to pay 4d. a peece. 1553 Respublica 1462 Thei bee weemen and perchaunce maye bee faced owte. 1617 Moryson Itin. i. 168 The French Liberty of the Weomen makes the Italians judge them without shame. 1641 (title) The Petition of the Weamen of Middlesex. a1699 A. Halkett Autobiog. (Camden) 22, I dresed him in the wemen's habitt that was prepared, wch fitted his Highnese very well.


b. Generically without article: The female human being; the female part of the human race, the female sex. Hence gen. woman's = womanly, female, feminine.

c950 Lindisf. Gosp. Matt. xix. 4 Masculum et feminam fecit eos, woepen-monn & wifmonn eworhte hia. c1000 Ælfric Deut. xxii. 5 Ne scryde nan wif hi mid wæpmannes reafe, ne wæpman mid wifmannes reafe. a1250 Prov. Alfred 281 in O.E. Misc. 118 Wymmon is word-woþ and haueþ tunge to swift. c1290 S. Eng. Leg. 29 Þe beste bern‥Þat euere of womman was i-bore. c1386 Chaucer Melib. ⁋142 What is better than wisedoom? womman. And what is bettre than a good womman? no thyng. 1526 Pilgr. Perf. (W. de W. 1531) 271b, For in man as man is no assurance, & moche lesse in woman. 1697 Dryden Æneis iv. 820 Woman's a various and a changeful Thing! 1753–4 Richardson Grandison III. xvii. 133 Woman is the glory of all created existence:—But you, madam, are more than woman! 1766 Goldsm. Vic. W. xxiv. Song, When lovely woman stoops to folly. 1808 Scott Marm. vi. xxx. 1 O Woman! in our hours of ease, Uncertain, coy, and hard to please. 1823 —— Quentin D. xiv, Get thee gone with thy woman's ware! 1849 Froude Nem. Faith 224 All that woman's care or woman's affection could do to soften off her end was done. 1853 Dickens Bleak Ho. xiv, ‘But Wooman, lovely Wooman,’ said Mr. Turveydrop,‥‘what a sex you are!’ 1855 Kingsley in Life (1877) I. 453 Woman's heart is alike in all ranks. 1894 ‘Max O'Rell’ John Bull & Co. 284 Of all the domestic animals invented for the service of man in South Africa, the most useful is woman.


c. pl. in pregnant use with reference to (irregular) intercourse with women.

c1200 Vices & Virtues 127 He‥seið þat for ates ne for drinches ne for wifmanne‥ne scal man naure ben forloren. 1420–22, a1532, 1621, 1727, 1819 [see wine n.1 1f(b)]. 1535 Coverdale 1 Sam. xxi. 4 Yf the yonge men haue onely refrained them selues from wemen. 1577 Frampton Joyful News 15 Aboue all thynges let hym keepe hym self from Women.


d. As a mode of address. (Cf. man n.1 4e.) Now (except dial. and in renderings of foreign modes of speech) used chiefly derogatorily or jocularly.

c1230 Hali Meid. (1922) 42 Wummon, ȝef þu hauest were after þi wil. a1240 Ureisun in O.E. Hom. I. 189 Helpe me‥marie, moder and maiden, deorwurþ wimmon. c1250 Kent. Serm. in O.E. Misc. 29 Ure louerd‥sede to hire, Wat be-longeth hit to me oþer to þe, wyman? a1300 Cursor M. 16651 Wimmen, wimmen, dos a-wai! wepe yee noght for me. 1377 Langl. P. Pl. B. iii. 105 Vnwittily, womman! wrouȝt hastow oft. 1382 Wyclif Matt. xv. 28 O thou womman, thi feith is grete. c1440 York Myst. ix. 93 O! woman, arte þou woode? 1607 Shakes. Cor. iv. i. 12 Virg. Oh heauens! O heauens! Corio. Nay, I prythee woman. 1667 Milton P.L. ix. 343 O Woman, best are all things as the will Of God ordaind them. 1726 R. West Hecuba iv. 24 Oh Woman! thy Calamities are great. 1842 S. Lover Handy Andy ix, Arrah, woman, don't be talkin' your balderdash to me. 1860 Sala Badd. Peer. I. iii. 63 ‘Will you hold your tongue, woman?’ her husband‥cried out‥‘Woman! hold my tongue! This language to me!’ 1901 S. Macnaughtan Fortune of Christina M'Nab i, ‘Woman, you are just perfect’, responded Colin, ‘but you have not got the English tone.’


e. With allusion to qualities conventionally attributed to the female sex, as mutability, capriciousness, proneness to tears; also to their traditional consignment to a position of inferiority or subjection (phr. to make a woman of, to bring into submission).

c1400 Beryn 872 She had done a vommans dede. c1400 Anturs Arth. 107 Hit waried, hit wayment as a womane. c1515 Interl. Four Elem. (Percy Soc.) 23 Then know I a lyghter mete than that.‥ It is evyn a womans tounge, For that is ever sterynge! a1548 Hall Chron., Hen. VIII 185b, This peace was called the womennes peace, for because that notwithstandyng this conclusion, yet neither the Emperoure trusted the Frenche kyng, nor he neither trusted nor loued hym. 1591 Shakes. Two Gent. i. ii. 23 Iul. Your reason? Lu. I haue no other but a womans reason: I thinke him so, because I thinke him so. 1593 Passionate Morrice (1876) 79 At last, with a resolution, she played the woman, falling into so kinde a vaine of scoulding, as she had charged him with a thousand discourtesies. 1595 Shakes. John v. vi. 22. 1596 —— Tam. Shr. iv. v. 36. 1596 —— 1 Hen. IV, ii. iii. 112. 1602 —— Ham. i. ii. 146 Frailty, thy name is woman. 1605 1st Pt. Jeronimo i. ii. 62 Be woman in all partes, saue in thy eies. 1612 Field (title) A Woman is a Weather-cocke. 1677 W. Hughes Man of Sin ii. viii. 125 O what great Bargains are these! and cheap enough in any Womans Conscience! 1742 Col. Rec. Pennsylv. IV. 579 We conquer'd You, we made Women of you. 1836 W. Irving Astoria xxi. II. 40, I have seen your husband carrying wood into his lodge to make the fire. Where was his squaw, that he should be obliged to make a woman of himself? 1850 Smedley F. Fairlegh xxvii, Don't make such a fuss; you're as bad as a woman. 1851 Kingsley Three Fishers 5 For men must work, and women must weep.


f. (Now always with the.) The essential qualities of a woman; womanly characteristics; that which makes a woman what she is; womanliness; occas. the feminine side or aspect; †predicatively = feminine, womanish.

1611 Beaum. & Fl. King & No K. iv. iv, But that my eyes Have more of woman in 'em than my heart, I would not weep. 1637 N. Whiting Albino & Bellama 18 Not in a fit of woman cry and whine. 1661 Evelyn Tyrannus 25 It is not possible to say which is the more Woman of the two Coated Sardanapalus's. 1676 Dryden Aurengz. v. 80 All the Woman work'd within your mind. 1771 Mackenzie Man Feel. xxi. (1803) 28 Take away that girl,‥she has woman about her, already. 1821 Scott Kenilw. xiv, It might be‥said, that the Earl of Sussex had been most serviceable to the Queen, while Leicester was most dear to the woman. 1834 Sir H. Taylor Artevelde i. ii. iii, Teach her to subdue The woman in her nature. 1844 Fraser's Mag. XXX. 532/2 Liddy was really taking the woman upon her in earnest. 1885 ‘Mrs. Alexander’ At Bay vii, She knew that all the woman in her somewhat masculine nature had gone out, in maternal affection to her husband's nephew. 1894 ‘G. Egerton’ Keynotes 188 To get at the woman under that infernal corset.


g. one's own woman: mistress of oneself, independent. (After man n.1 4l.) Obs.

1605 Marston Dutch Courtezan iii. i, I assure you ile nere marry.‥ Marry God forfend‥ile liue my owne woman.


h. In contrast, explicit or implicit, with ‘lady’ (see lady n. 4).

1788 Wesley Wks. (1872) VII. 34 Hunting, shooting, fishing, wherein not many women (I should say ladies) are concerned. 1837 Dickens Pickw. xxxii, ‘You are such an unreasonable woman,’ remonstrated Mr. Benjamin Allen. ‘I beg your parding, young man,’ said Mrs. Raddle,‥‘but who do you call a woman?’ 1847 Athenæum 30 Oct. 1128/1 Defendant pleaded‥that the person described as a woman was in fact a lady. 1855 Mrs. Gaskell North & S. xxxix, So that was the lady you spoke of as a woman?‥ You might have told me who she was.


i. With qualification denoting status, occupation, or character, woman enters into many compounds or collocations more or less permanent, corresponding to those of man (man n.1 4p) but much less numerous: see the various qualifying words and bondwoman, charwoman, countrywoman, gentlewoman, horsewoman, man-woman, needlewoman, old woman, tire-woman, townswoman, wise woman, young woman, etc.
†woman bond, nonce-inversion of bondwoman. first woman = prima donna. little woman: a female child, girl (cf. little man, man n.1 4f); also, an affectionate or playful form of address to a girl or young woman, esp. one in whom womanly qualities are conspicuous. new woman: a woman of ‘advanced’ views, advocating the independence of her sex and defying convention; hence new-womandom, new-womanish adj.

1675 Hobbes Odyssey iv. 12 The second wedding was his son's, Whom on a woman bond he had begot. 1827 Earl of Mount-Edgcumbe Mus. Remin. (ed. 2) 47 At one of the smaller theatres, however, the part of first woman in an intermezzo‥was filled by a very promising singer,‥who became in time one of the best first men. 1868 L. M. Alcott (title) Little Women; or Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. 1880 [see prima donna]. 1893 G. Gissing Odd Women I. viii. 235 A strong character, of course. More decidedly one of the new women than you yourself—isn't she? 1894 Sarah Grand in N. Amer. Rev. March 271 Both the cow-woman and the scum-woman are well within the range of the comprehension of the Bawling Brotherhood, but the new woman is a little above him. 1894 ‘Ouida’ Ibid. May 616 The elegant epithet of Cow~woman implies the contempt with which maternity is viewed by the New Woman. 1894 Granta 8 Dec. 122 The Alexandra (Dublin) ladies‥are models of new womandom. 1896 Harper's Mag. XCIII. 32/1 She is not at all of an unsentimental nature—only fractious—new-womanish, perhaps. 1897 ‘Ouida’ Massarenes iv, They were pretty babies, dear little men and women.


j. In phraseological collocations corresp. to those s.v. man n.1 18, as woman of all work, business, colour, fashion, honour, letters, livelihood, pleasure, the people, property, sense, the town, the world: see also these ns. woman about town: see town n. 8b; woman in the street: see street n. 3h; woman-to-woman: cf. man n.1 4h.

1484 Test. Ebor. (Surtees) III. 257 Or ellis to marye hym till a woman of livelod to his degre. 1697 De Foe Ess. Projects 303 A Woman of Sense and Breeding. 1705 Vanbrugh Country-ho. ii, You must behave yourself like a woman of honour, and keep your word. 1742 Fielding J. Andrews i. vii, She resolved to preserve all the dignity of the woman of fashion to her servant. 1818 ‘T. Brown’ Brighton; or The Steyne I. i. 20 She passes for a woman of letters. 1837 Dickens Pickw. xxxii, The young woman of all work. 1838 —— O. Twist xlviii, ‘Coming,’‥‘Ah, and so's the young 'ooman of property that's going to take a fancy to me.’ 1847 L. Hunt Men, Women & B. (1876) 316 Our little woman of letters [sc. Lady Mary W. Montagu] read all the books she could lay her hands on. 1849 Lyell 2nd Visit U.S. II. 11 The‥pleasant expression of countenance of a young woman of colour. [1859 Lytton What will he do with It? III. vi. ix. 302 Talking thus, Arabella forgot the relationship of pupil and teacher; it was a woman to woman—girl to girl—friend to friend.] 1907 G. B. Shaw Major Barbara iii. 274, I thought she was a woman of the people, and that a marriage with a professor of Greek would be far beyond the wildest social ambitions of her rank. 1929 J. B. Priestley Good Companions iii. v. 586 ‘I should think you have news,’ said Susie, smiling and being tremendously woman-to-woman. 1933 Kipling Souvenirs of France ii. 44 A woman of the people led her away. 1935 E. Bowen House in Paris ii. iii. 114 Her round slate-blue eyes rolled in a woman-to-woman way. 1962 ‘L. Grex’ Terror wears Smile iv. 58 ‘There's not going to be any nonsense. You know what I mean.’ Those words had been uttered in a quiet woman-to-woman chat some weeks before. 1982 H. Innes Black Tide v. iii. 272 If I told her, woman-to-woman, the sort of person Karen was.‥ Perhaps she'd understand then.


k. In the 16th and 17th centuries freq. with play on a pseudo-etymological association with woe; also, less freq., between weemen (= women) and we men. Obs.

?a1500 Chester Plays, Creat. 259 Woman,‥soothe said I in prophesie when thou wast taken of my body, mans woe thou woldest be witlie, therfore thou wast so named. 1534 More Comf. agst. Trib. To Rdr., Man himselfe borne of a woman, is in deede a wo man, that is, ful of wo and miserie. 1546 J. Heywood Prov. ii. vii, A woman! As who saith, woe to the man! 1589 Puttenham Engl. Poesie ii. xviii. (Arb.) 147 Not money: nor many, Nor any: but any, Not weemen, but weemen beare the bell. 1601 in Bullen More Lyrics (1888) 143 Women, what are they?‥ We men, what are we? 1616 R. C. Times' Whistle v. 1962 Woemen when they will Can weep. 1653 R. Flecknoe Misc. 70 Shep. Woe has end, when 'tis alone: But in woman never none. Nim. Say of Woman worst ye can, What prolongs their woe, but man?


l. Proverbs.

c1425 Cast. Persev. 2650 in Macro Plays 156 Þer wymmen arn, are many wordys. c1440 Alphabet of Tales 396 Socrates‥sayd þat womman, ay þe mor sho was bett, þe wars was sho. 1520 Calisto & Melib. Aiijb, Yt is an old sayeng That women be the dyuells netts and hed of syn. 1541 Schole-h. Women 690 in Hazl. E.P.P. IV. 131 Women and dogges cause much strife. 1545 Taverner Erasm. Prov. 31b, Fyre, See, Woman, thre euyls. 1589 Puttenham Engl. Poesie iii. xix. (Arb.) 239 It‥may be likened to the maner of women, who as the common saying is, will say nay and take it. Ibid. xxiv. 297 A woman will weepe for pitie to see a gosling goe barefoote. 1594 Mirr. Policy (1599) Xij, Is it not an old Prouerbe. That Women and Shippes are neuer so perfect but still there is somewhat to bee amended. 1599 Sandys Europæ Spec. (1629) 194 Seeing as the Proverbe is, a dead woman will haue foure to cary her forth. 1639 J. Clarke Parœm. 117 A woman, asse, and walnut-tree, the more you beat the better be. 1659 N. R. Proverbs 110 Three Women make a Market. Ibid. 120 Women laugh when they can, weep when they will. 1670 Ray Prov. 50 A womans work is never at an end. Ibid. 54 England is the Paradise of women. c1825 Mrs. Cameron The Cradle 12 You know they say ‘A woman's business is never done.’


m. hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and var. (see scorn v. 3a, quot. 1697). Hence woman scorned, used allusively; also as attrib. phr.

1868 J. G. Saxe Poems 291 In classic authors we are often warned, There's naught so savage as a ‘woman scorned’. [1886 M. H. E. Bates Chamber over Gate xxvi. 363 You know ‘Hell hath no fury’, etc. If your wife should ever wake up to the true state of the case‥I'm afraid she'd be an ugly customer.] 1927 W. Johnston Affair in Duplex 9B 60 The old idea of ‘the woman scorned’ on which Chilton had been relying this time failed utterly. 1932 W. McFee Harbourmaster xxi. 333 They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. 1940 G. H. Coxe Glass Triangle x. 126 If you really want to know who could have wanted to kill him, you might as well start with me.‥ You've heard that one about hell having no fury like a woman scorned? Well, that was me. 1942 N. Marsh Death & Dancing Footman iii. 49 He broke out into‥merriment calculated‥to arouse in Chloris the pangs proper to a woman scorned. 1967 —— Death at Dolphin viii. 222 She really does bear out the Woman Scorned crack. She is‥not all that charitably disposed at any time. 1971 ‘J. Ripley’ Davis doesn't live here any More 124 The discarded mistress—the ‘woman scorned’—motive. 1973 I. Murdoch Black Prince 330 ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’ In a way I might have been flattered.


2. A female servant, esp. a lady's maid or personal attendant. Often pl. (†also = womenfolk).

a766 Pœnit. Abp. Ecgbert iv. in Thorpe Laws (1840) II. 182 if hwylc wif‥hire wifman swingð. c1000 Ælfric Gen. xx. 18 God ewitnode ealle hys wimmen. 1340 Ayenb. 67 Þis zenne is ine uele maneres ase ine sergons aye hire lhordinges, ine wyfmen aye hare leuedis. c1450 Merlin v. 90, I‥require that as soone as it is born that ye take it to oon of youre moste secrete woman. 1565 Cal. Scott. Papers (1900) II. 142 To play a partie at a playe theie call the biles, my mestres Beton and I agaynste the Quene and my lord Darlye—the women to have the gayne of the wynninges. 1613 Shakes. Hen. VIII, i. iv. 93 Sir Thomas Bullens Daughter,‥One of her Highnesse women. 1663 Dryden Rival Ladies i. ii, A Note put privately into my hand By Angellina's Woman. 1749 Fielding Tom Jones vii. viii, In Town I visit none but the Women of Women of Quality. 1809 Malkin Gil Blas x. ix. (Rtldg.) 360 Another coach and four, with Seraphina's women. 1893 ‘Leslie Keith’ Lisbeth iii, I wonder ye dare put such an affront on me before the women! 1898 R. Hichens Londoners x, From Mrs. Crouch, ma'am, her Grace's woman.


3.a. A lady-love, mistress. Obs. b. A kept mistress, paramour.

13‥ K. Alis. 7567 They toke and slowe Hirkan And yolde Kindeleke his woman. 1561 Hoby tr. Castiglione's Courtyer iii. (1577) Qvj, A feruent Dialogue full of the affection of a louer with his womanne. 1639 J. S. Clidamas 25 Agree to bee my woman, and I will consent to bee thy man. 1666 Pepys Diary 13 Oct., The Duke of York‥leaves off care of business, what with his woman, my Lady Denham, and his hunting three times a week. 1719 De Foe Crusoe ii. (Globe) 384 If any of you take any of these Women, as a Woman or Wife,‥he shall take but one. 1924 Galsworthy White Monkey iii. vii, They tell me Elderson keeps two women.


4. a. A wife. Now only dial. and U.S.
Cf. old woman 1b and the corresp. use of man (man n.1 8).

c1450 St. Cuthbert (Surtees) 7041 A night be his woman [cum uxore] he lay. 1598 Shakes. Merry W. ii. ii. 305 See the hell of hauing a false woman: my bed shall be abus'd. a1625 Fletcher Nice Valour ii. i, A man can in his lifetime make but one woman, But he can make his fifty Queanes a month. 1693 Dryden Juvenal vi. 295 Prepare thy Neck and put it in the Yoke: But for no mercy from thy Woman look. 1765 in Buccleuch MSS. (Hist. MSS. Comm.) I. 416 My poor little woman has been in the drooping mood for two or three days. 1841 Thackeray Gt. Hoggarty Diam. x, Gates and his woman thought that they should come for'ard‥to help the kindest master and missus ever was. 1866 Carlyle Remin. (1881) II. 193, I persisted in them to the last, as did my woman. 1897 Kipling Capt. Cour. vii. 147 He married my woman's aunt.


b. The female mate of an animal. Obs. rare.

1577 Googe Heresbach's Husb. iii. 144b, The hee Goate,‥by a certayne instinct of nature,‥goeth alwayes before his woman.


5. The reverse of a coin; in reference to the figure of Britannia (q.v.) upon it. (Cf. man n.1 17.)

1785 Grose Dict. Vulgar T. s.v. Harp, Harp‥is also the Irish expression for woman, or tail, used in tossing up in Ireland. 1835 Marryat Olla Podr., Ill-Will iii, Thos. Here goes—heads or tails? John. Woman for ever. 1888 ‘R. Boldrewood’ Robbery under Arms xi, I pulled out a shilling. ‘If it's head we go, Jim; if it's woman, we stay here.’


II. attrib. and Comb.


6. a. Simple attrib. = ‘of or characteristic of a woman or women, feminine, womanly’: woman-city, woman-eye, woman-flesh, woman-godhead, woman-haunt, woman-luck, etc.

1542 Udall Erasm. Apoph. 29 The woman sexe is no lesse apte to learne al maner thynges then menne are. 1621 Lady M. Wroth Urania 104 Woman modestie kept her silent. c1622 Fletcher Prophetess iii. iii, You'll find it but a woman~fit to try ye. 1631 Heywood 1st Pt. Fair Maid of West iii. i. 31 In this woman shape Ile cudgell thee. 1726 Pope Odyss. xix. 82 Into the woman-state asquint to pry. 1810 Scott Lady of L. v. xxvi, The only man, in whom a foe My woman-mercy would not know. 1845 Clough Poems, Ὁ Θεὸς µετὰ σοῦ 7, I shall see thy soft brown eyes dilate to wakening woman thought. 1846 Mrs. Carlyle in Jane Welsh Carlyle (1924) 278 What a contrast I often think betwixt that woman and Geraldine! the opposite poles of woman-nature! 1880 G. Meredith Trag. Comedians II. v. 83 Exactly what his appreciation, in womanflesh, would lead him to fix on. 1883 Browning Jochanan Hakkadosh 310 The woman-nature—the soft sway Of undefinable omnipotence O'er our strong male-stuff. 1895 Outing (U.S.) XXVI. 346/2 The next moment he had taken the fair woman face between his hands. 1895 Cath. Mag. Dec. 453 Her shrewd woman-wit. 1897 ‘H. S. Merriman’ In Kedar's Tents xxvi. heading, Womancraft. 1915 D. H. Lawrence Rainbow iii. 81 He must get out of this oppressive, shut-down, woman-haunt. 1922 Joyce Ulysses 468 Under it lies the womancity. Ibid. 155 Mrs Breen's womaneyes said melancholily. 1923 D. H. Lawrence Ladybird 53 She could not finally believe in her own woman-godhead. 1946 Dylan Thomas Deaths & Entrances 40 The next-door sea dispelled Frogs and satans and woman-luck. 1971 V. Canning Firecrest vi. 83 He put his arm round her shoulder‥and felt through silk the warmth and firmness of woman flesh.


b. appos. (a) = ‘female’, esp. with designations of occupation or profession: woman doctor, woman driver, woman-help, woman journalist, woman officer, woman p.c., woman police officer, woman-savage, woman teacher, etc.

a1300 Cursor M. 29420 If þou wit þi woman frend Find clerk be doand dede vn-hende. 1382 Wyclif 1 Kings xvii. 9 A womman widowe. c1400 Three Kings Cologne (1886) 33 A womman-paynym þat was his moder. 14‥ Lat.-Eng. Voc. in Wr.-Wülcker 600/47 Sacerdotissa patrina, a wommangossyb. 1530 Palsgr. 289/2 Woman coke, cuisiniere. 1617 Moryson Itin. i. 258 The famous woman poet Sapho. 1632 Brome Court Beggar v. ii. (1653) S3b, What Woman Monster's this? 1659 D. Pell Improv. Sea Ep. Ded. dj, Wee are so wise now, that wee have our woman Politicians. 1675 T. Brooks Gold. Key Wks. 1867 V. 442 A woman-martyr who‥offered herself to martyrdom. 1680 Shadwell (title) The Woman-Captain. 1693 Dryden Juvenal vi. Note 31 A Woman-Grammarian, who corrects her Husband for speaking false Latin. 1697 —— Æneis xi. 996 [1016] A Woman Warrior was too strong for thee. 1706 Prior Ode to Queen xxvi, The Woman Chief is Master of the War. 1717 Pope Iliad ix. 756 One Woman-Slave was ravish'd from thy Arms. 1805 Forsyth Beauties Scot. II. 54 A woman-shearer, through the harvest, is reckoned equal to the rent of a cottage and yard. 1847 Tennyson Princess iv. 540 The Princess with her monstrous woman-guard. 1853 Dickens Child's Hist. Eng. xxix, in Househ. Words 12 Mar. 48/2 Edward was now sinking in a rapid decline.‥ They handed him over to a woman-doctor who pretended to be able to cure it. 1859 Geo. Eliot A. Bede l, Lisbeth's obstinate refusal to have any woman-helper in the house. 1877 Black Green Past. i, With scarcely a woman-friend in the world. 1899 W. James Talks to Teachers on Psychol. ii. i. 227 What our girl-students and woman-teachers most need‥is‥the toning-down of their moral tensions. 1902 A. Bennett in Academy 21 June 635/1 The average woman-journalist is the most loyal, earnest and teachable person under the sun. 1911 D. H. Lawrence White Peacock i. ix. 158 At any rate the extra woman-help came. 1921 R. Macaulay Dangerous Ages iii. 65 Pamela bright and cool and firm, like a woman doctor. 1930 D. H. Lawrence A Propos of Lady Chatterley's Lover 25 We read of the woman-savage who wore three overcoats on top of one another to excite her man. 1968 R. L. Fish Bridge that went Nowhere iv. 44, I might have known it would be a woman driver! 1972 L. Lamb Picture Frame xviii. 154 A woman p.c. was clearing an outside drain. 1973 ‘B. Mather’ Snowline x. 121 I'll send a couple of woman officers along. 1976 R. Lewis Witness my Death i. 36 You've shown all the worst traits that can be expected in a woman doctor. 1976 Southern Even. Echo (Southampton) 11 Nov. 32/5 A chase through rush-hour crowds ended with a suspected shoplifter escaping into the darkness‥as he was pursued by a woman police officer. 1982 D. Mackenzie Raven's Revenge xi. 104 A small car stopped.‥ The woman driver was already crossing the pavement, house-keys in hand. 1982 A. Brookner Providence ix. 108, I wonder why they didn't send a woman teacher.


†(b) = ‘having the character of a woman, feminine, womanly; effeminate’. Obs.

a1586 Sidney Arcadia iii. xxv. (1912) 497 Rather then onely shew her selfe a woman-lover in fruitles lamentations. 1635–56 Cowley Davideis i. 319, I have been a pious fool, a Woman-King.


(c) With names of animals, forming designations of creatures having the qualities or properties of a woman and of the particular animal.

a1625 Fletcher Womans Prize iv. iv, I‥know her To be a Woman-wolfe by transmigration. 1673 Lady's Calling i. iii. §23 Nothing can be more unnatural, more odious, then a woman-tiger. 1889 Rider Haggard Allan's Wife xi, The brutes, acting under the direction of that woman~monkey. 1893 Rodway Hand-bk. Brit. Guiana 67 How such an unwieldy creature [as the manatee]‥could ever have been figured as a woman-fish can hardly be understood by anyone who has seen it.


c. objective, as woman-follower, woman-killer, †woman-queller, woman-scorner, woman-slayer, woman-spiter, woman-worship, woman-worshipper, woman-wronger; also woman-bearing, woman-churching, woman-degrading, woman-despising, woman-flogging, woman-murdering, †woman-quelling, woman-worshipping, adjs.; woman-hating adj. and n.; similative and parasynthetic, as woman breasted, woman-faced, woman-fair, woman-headed, woman-hearted, woman-proud, woman-vested adjs.; instrumental, as woman-bred, woman-built, woman-conquered, woman-daunted, woman-governed, woman-made, woman-ridden, woman-tended adjs.

1928 W. B. Yeats tr. Sophocles' King Oedipus 42 Oedipus overcame the *woman-breasted Fate. 1946 Dylan Thomas Deaths & Entrances 30 The woman breasted and the heaven headed Bird. 1848 Thackeray Van. Fair xxxviii, The boy grew up delicate, sensitive, imperious, *woman-bred. 1847 Tennyson Princess iv. 466 A new-world Babel, *woman-built. a1693 Urquhart's Rabelais iii. xli. 336 An uprising or *Woman Churching Treatment. 1847 Tennyson Princess iii. 333 *Woman-conquer'd [stood] there The bearded Victor of ten-thousand hymns. 1598 Rowlands Betraying Christ, etc. Div, *Woman-daunted Peter. 1895 G. Allen Woman who did (1906) 84 Their own vile *woman-degrading and prostituting morality. 1610 Healey St. Aug. Citie of God 686 Ausonius makes her [sc. the Sphinx]‥*woman-faced. 1866 Lytton Lost Tales Miletus 96 Beside him sate An image *woman-fair. 1794 Southey Coleridge's Fall of Robespierre iii. 181 The *woman-govern'd Roland. 1939 W. Fortescue There's Rosemary xii. 87, I even got personal praise from a *woman-hating Don who acted as dramatic critic for the 'Varsity magazine. 1973 E. Taylor Serpent under It xi. 172 He was really an old dear—all that woman-hating stuff was just a pose. 1902 19th Cent. Dec. 989 The *woman-headed serpent. 1813 H. G. Knight Alashtar iii. xiii, Well may the mild, the *woman-hearted fail. 1848 Thackeray Van. Fair xxix, Having a firm conviction in his own mind that he was a *woman-killer and destined to conquer. 1597 Shakes. 2 Hen. IV, ii. i. 58 Thou art‥a Man-queller, and a *woman-queller. 1611 J. Davies Sco. Folly (Grosart) 10/1 Bossus the woman-queller. 1852 Thackeray Esmond ii. iv, A weak priest-ridden, *woman-ridden man. 1935 Auden & Isherwood Dog beneath Skin i. v. 57 But perhaps you're a *woman-scorner. 1591 Harington Orl. Fur. xxix. xxxii, He had prou'd him selfe a *woman-slayre. 1847 Mrs. Gore Castles in Air v, A perpetual sense of aggression had converted me, not into a woman-hater, but a *woman-spiter. 1857 Ld. Dufferin Lett. High Lat. vi. 36 The elegance and comfort of a *woman-tended home. 1847 Tennyson Princess iv. 163 *Woman-vested as I was. 1848 Kingsley Saint's Trag. Introd. p. xviii, The *woman-worship of chivalry. 1856 Reade Never too Late ix, Next Lady-day, as the *woman-worshipper calls it. 1921 D. H. Lawrence Sea & Sardinia iii. 114 *Woman-worshipping Don Juans. 1596 Spenser F.Q. vi. vii. 7 Foule *womanwronger.


7. Special comb.: †woman-actor, (a) an actress; (b) an actor who takes women's parts; woman-boat = women's boat (10); woman-body dial., a person of the female sex, woman; woman-born a., born of woman; woman-dangler, one who dangles after women; †woman-errant, one who goes after women; woman-grown a., that has become a woman; woman-hour, an hour's work done by a woman; †woman-house Sc., a laundry: see also women-house (9c); †woman-keeper, a female nurse; †woman-louper Sc., a whoremonger; woman-mad a., mad after women; woman-man, an effeminate man, or one who in some way resembles a woman; woman-market, a place for the sale (lit. or fig.) of women; woman-movement, the movement for the emancipation of women, or the recognition and extension of women's rights; woman-palaver African, illicit commerce with a woman or women; woman-physician, (a) a woman's doctor; (b) a woman-doctor; woman-post, a female messenger or courier; woman-power, (a) the exercise of authority by women; (b) the number of women available for work; the power of women in work; woman question, a controversy over the rights of women, esp. that in the nineteenth century; woman-raving a. = woman-mad; †woman-reputation, reputation with women; †woman-shoemaker, a maker of women's shoes; woman-slaughter, the killing of a woman by a human being; woman-suffrage, the right of women to vote in public affairs; hence woman-suffragist, an advocate of woman-suffrage; †woman-surgeon, one who beautifies women by the aid of paints, washes, etc.; †woman-tired a. [tire v.2 2], hen-pecked; woman trouble colloq., (a) U.S., gynæcological problems (cf. trouble n. 4); (b) difficulties caused to a man by a relationship with a woman or women; †(on) woman-ways, -wise advs., after the manner of a woman or women; woman-year, a year of a woman's life; esp. used as a cumulative measure in medical tests carried out on a number of different women.

1739 Cibber Apol. (1756) II. 146 (Dial. old Plays) Alexander Goffe, the *woman-actor at Blackfriers‥used to be the jackall. 1895 Kipling 2nd Jungle Bk. 146 Big skin ‘*woman-boats’, when the dogs and the babies lay among the feet of the rowers. 1818 Scott Hrt. Midl. x, It was an awkward thing for a *woman-body to be standing among bundles o' barkened leather her lane, selling saddles and bridles. 1887 Hall Caine Deemster xii, The young woman-body is dead in child-bed. 1781 Cowper Charity 181 Canst thou‥Buy what is *woman-born, and feel no shame? 1842 J. Wilson Chr. North (1857) I. 217 Nor in those days needed he [sc. Burns] help from woman-born. 1850 Fraser's Mag. Nov. 508/2 That when his back is turned the Senecas may not call him a thief as well as a *woman-dangler. 1628 Shirley Witty Fair One ii. ii, What make you here, my *woman errant? 1785 Burns Cotter's Sat. Nt. iv, Their Jenny, *woman-grown, In youthfu' bloom. 1864 Tennyson Aylmer's F. 108 The maiden woman-grown. 1961 Guardian 23 Mar. 24/6, I shudder to think how many man-hours and *woman-hours are spent‥typing, ‘Dear So-and-So’. 1979 M. McCarthy Cannibals & Missionaries i. 4 I'm doing a serious study of the woman-hours expended in this family. 1616 Reg. Mag. Sig. Scot. 555/2 Cameram lie *woman-hous. 1754 State of Process, Mrs. Forbes v. D. Scot (Jam.) Water lying on the floors of the woman-house and kitchen. 1552 Wriothesley Chron. (Camden) II. 80 Betwene euery xx children [of Christ's Hospital] [there was] one *woman keeper. 1630 ? Dekker Blacke Rod (1925) 217 No Women-keepers to rob you of your Goods, or to hasten you to your End. a1568 in Bannatyne MS. (Hunter. Club.) 419 A *woman lowpar, landless. 1848 Buckley Iliad 249 Accursed Paris, *woman-mad, seducer. 1605 Sylvester Du Bartas ii. iii. i. Vocation 344 May one hope‥In *Woman-Men a manly Constancie? 1621 J. Taylor (Water P.) Superbiæ Flagellum C6, The Woman-man, Man-woman, chuse you whether, The Female-male, Male-female, both, yet neither. 1889 Tennyson On one who affected an effeminate manner 4 But friend, man-woman is not woman-man. 1760–72 H. Brooke Fool of Qual. (1809) III. 103 Another lady then demanded, if we had not a *woman-market. 1864 Tennyson Aylmer's F. 348 He never yet had set his daughter forth Here in the woman-markets of the west. 1883 Harper's Mag. Aug. 468/2 Whether the great progress of the ‘*woman movement’‥is due to the agitation of ‘woman's rights’, or proceeds in spite of it. 1898 Daily News 14 Dec. 5/1 It is in educational affairs that the Woman Movement appears to be making the most progress. 1897 Hinde Congo Arabs 32 What every African traveller knows as ‘*woman-palaver’. 1533 MSS. Dk. Rutland (Hist. MSS. Comm.) IV. 274 To a *woman phisician‥iijs. iiijd. 1591 H. Smith Prepar. Marr. 76 To helpe him in his sicknesse, like a woman Phisition. 1625 Hart Anat. Ur. ii. vi. 85 Much lesse then the ignorant Empiricke, the peticoate or woman-physitian. 1595 Shakes. John i. i. 218 But who comes in such haste in riding robes? What *woman post is this? 1626 Raleigh's Ghost in Harl. Misc. (Malh.) III. 547 How he [sc. Gondomar]‥answered the expectation‥of‥the king‥shall be declared upon the next return of the woman-post, which passeth betwixt the English and the Spanish Jesuits. 1847 Tennyson Princess iv. 357 A woman-post in flying raiment. 1927 Amer. Jrnl. Philol. XLVIII. 201 In the kingdoms established by the Successors in Egypt and in Syria women appear as co-rulers with their husbands and as regents during the minority of a son or the exile of a husband. This *woman-power is sometimes regarded as a Macedonian tradition. 1938 Lancet 5 Nov. 1071/2 If the aim is to use the woman-power of the countryside to the best advantage it will often be best for the women themselves to organise their work collectively. 1941 New Yorker 29 Mar. 46/3 The long-threatened drive to bring womanpower into the war effort. 1968 Ramparts May 8 If you had a cover on Black Power like your cover on Woman Power, it would be a picture of a sharecropper with a harmonica in one hand and a piece of watermelon in the other. 1973 Black World June 32 Woman power Is Black power Is Human power Is Always feeling. 1976 H. Wilson Governance of Britain 7 Ernest Bevin‥was in charge of the industrial and military mobilization of Britain's manpower and woman~power. 1977 Spare Rib July 23 We're desperately short of woman-power on all areas of the magazine. 1984 Sunday Times (Colour Suppl.) 28 Oct. 80/2 The more progressive industries are beginning to realise that they can't afford to waste Britain's womanpower. 1857 Geo. Eliot Let. 21 Sept. (1954) II. 383 Quite delivered from any necessity of giving a judgment on the *Woman Question or of reading newspapers about the Indian Mutinies. 1884 T. Stanton (title) The woman question in Europe. 1930 J. Collier His Monkey Wife ix. 119 A belated essayist on the Woman Question. 1981 R. Tremain Cupboard ii. 31 The attitude of men to the Woman Question. 1848 Buckley Iliad 50 Cursed Paris, thou *woman-raving seducer. a1641 Bp. R. Montagu Acts & Mon. vii. (1642) 395 To which popular credit and *woman-reputation they attained‥by their saint-seeming sanctity. 1704 Lond. Gaz. No. 4003/4 Robert Fleetwood, a *Woman Shoemaker. 1639 J. Taylor (Water P.) Crabtree Lect. 82 Least there should be man-slaughter, or *woman-slaughter committed. 1720 T. Gordon Humourist I. 169 But only be deem'd Woman-slaughter. 1844 J. T. J. Hewlett Parsons & W. ix, They had never heard of a verdict of woman-slaughter in their lives. 1867 Times 11 Apr. 12/1 *Woman Suffrage. [Text of two petitions.] 1888 Pall Mall Gaz. 26 Jan. 10/1 The sunflower badge‥has been adopted by the Iowa *woman suffragists. 1628 Ford Lover's Mel. i. ii, Pel. My nurse was a *woman-surgeon.‥ Rhe. A she-surgeon, which is in effect a meere matter of colours. 1959 N. Mailer Advts. for Myself (1961) 95 She comes to see him about something or other, *woman trouble maybe, and he seduces her in his medical chambers. 1967 J. Irwin Murderous Welcome vi. 51 She repudiated strongly any suggestion of discord between husband and wife and poured scorn on the mere idea of woman-trouble. 1977 L. Meynell Hooky gets Wooden Spoon xi. 127 ‘What's happening to Len Carron these days?’‥‘Woman trouble.’ 1611 Shakes. Wint. T. ii. iii. 74 Thou dotard, thou art *woman-tyr'd: vnroosted By thy dame Partlet heere. a1568 Bannatyne MS. (Hunter. Club) 174 With welwet bordour abowt his threidbair coit, On *woman-wayis weill toyit abowt his west. 1865 Swinburne Atalanta 2308 This man Died *woman-wise. 1959 Science 10 July 81/2 Sixteen certain and one probable pregnancy occurred in women taking the medication; this represented a rate of 2·7 pregnancies per 100 *woman-years.


8. Comb. with woman's, as woman's †poet, woman's tailor; woman's boat = women's boat (see 10); woman's magazine, a magazine designed primarily for women; also (colloq.) woman's mag; freq. attrib., esp. alluding to superficiality or stereotypical attitudes regarded as associated with such productions; woman's man, a lady's man, a gallant; †woman's-meadwort = meadwort 2; woman's movement = woman-movement, sense 7 above; woman's page, a page of a newspaper devoted to topics intended to be of special interest to women; woman's woman, a woman whose qualities are appreciated by other women, a woman who is popular with other women (cf. man's man s.v. man n.1 21); woman's work, work traditionally undertaken by women.

1769 Falconer Dict. Marine (1776) s.v. Canoe, Umiak, the *woman's-boat. 1912 Magazine Maker Sept. 7 (title) Making a *woman's magazine. 1944 U. Orange Company in Evening ii. 34 The woman's magazine short story market may be a footling one. 1958 Observer 23 Feb. 14/2 The play‥fools about at woman's-mag-whimsy level of moral convention. Ibid. 25 May 16/7 A Miss Lonelyhearts on a foundering woman's mag. 1958 Spectator 13 June 768/2 Ophelia's infatuated woman's magazine royalism rings with a specially hollow tinkle in Glen Byam Shaw's production of Hamlet. 1959 J. Braine Vodi xxi. 231 Honestly, that woman's magazine stuff, just the sort of advice these damned aunties give. 1974 Times Lit. Suppl. 3 May 483/2 Without these pages of imaginative grace, the novel would be dangerously close to the woman's magazine level of romantic fiction with which it persistently flirts. 1599 Breton Wil of Wit (Grosart) 57/1, I thinke it better to bee thought a good *womans man than an ill mans woman. 1693 Congreve Old Bach. iv. xiii, Railing is the best qualification in a woman's man. 1711 Steele Spect. No. 156 ⁋1 The Woman's Man is a Person in his Air and Behaviour quite different from the rest of our Species. 1729 T. Cooke Tales, etc. 93 And him the Women call'd a Woman's Man. 1818 Fessenden Ladies' Monitor 31 Nor will I sanction any plan T'annihilate your pretty woman's man. a1400–50 Stockholm Med. MS. lf. 209 Freynch cresse or *wymmannys medewourth. [1881 E. C. Stanton et al. Hist. Woman Suffrage I. xiv. 577 The ‘Woman's Rights’ Movement is a practical one.] 1894 J. E. Schmahl in Englishwoman's Rev. 16 Apr. 90 For many years Maria Deraismes was looked upon as the sole and undisputed head of the *woman's movement in France. 1906 C. P. Gilman Women & Economics (ed. 5) iii. 49 So utterly has the status of woman been accepted as a sexual one that it has remained for the woman's movement of the nineteenth century to devote much contention to the claim that women are persons! 1933 E. Waugh Scoop i. i. 15 Those carefree days when he had edited the *Woman's Page. 1952 M. Steen Phoenix Rising iv. 87 An editor or a publisher or a woman's page-writer. 1971 Woman's page [see sexism]. 1620 B. Jonson Masque, News fr. New World (1641) 42 Chro. Is he a Mans Poet, or a *Womans Poet I pray you? 2 He. Is there any such difference? Fac. Many, as betwixt your mans Taylor, and your womans Taylor. 1597 Shakes. 2 Hen. IV, iii. ii. 161 What Trade are thou Feeble? Feeble. A *Womans Taylor sir. 1886 Kipling Plain Tales from Hills (1888) 47 Mrs. Hauksbee was honest‥and, but for her love of mischief, would have been a *woman's woman. 1923 G. Atherton Black Oxen xl. 246 She had never been a ‘woman's woman’, and it was patent that, as ever, she was far more animated in the company of men. 1976 ‘M. Nelson’ Crusoe Test i. 12 Elegant was the word for Carla Bayer.‥ She was not a woman's woman. [1670 *Woman's work: see sense 1l.] 1890 A. J. Armstrong Ingleside Musings 139 Thae bairns are just a woman's wark To keep them clean an' tidy. 1971 K. Millett Sexual Politics (1972) i. ii. 39 The ‘woman's work’ in which some two thirds of female population‥are engaged is work that is not paid for.


9. Comb. with women: a. appos., serving as plurals of combs. with woman (see 6b, 7): women doctors, women drivers, women friends, women journalists, women ministers, women priests, women professors, women students,etc.

13‥ Cursor M. 2672 (Gött.) Þat ilke lym quar-with Þat þai er kend fra wimmen kith. 1382 Wyclif 2 Sam. xix. 35, I may here‥the vois of men syngers and of wymmen syngers. 1494 in Househ. Ord. (1790) 125 The woemen officers for to receave it in the chamber. 1577 tr. Bullinger's Decades (1592) 1044 There is in the Church an order of women ministers called women-deacons. 1588 Kyd Househ. Phil. Wks. (1901) 273 Homer, who‥brought Penelope and Circes in the number of women weauers. 1600 J. Pory tr. Leo's Africa iii. 148 The third kinde of diuiners are women-witches. c1610 Women Saints (1886) 30 The moste famous women saints. 1614 Purchas Pilgrimage v. xvii. (ed. 2) 542 Ten women-slaues. 1622 Peacham Compl. Gentl. i. 11 Women Doctors (of whom for the most part there is more danger, then of the worst disease it selfe). 1625 Hart Anat. Ur. i. i. 8 By the aduice of her women-gossips. 1632 Brome Court Beggar v. ii. (1653) S2b, Women-Actors now grow in request. 1661 Walton Angler xviii. (ed. 3) 233 A Sticklebag‥is good‥only to make sport for boyes and women-Anglers. 1771 T. Hull Sir W. Harrington (1797) III. 226 A parcel of women-relations. 1859 Geo. Eliot A. Bede xlii, These poor silly women-things. 1878 Harper's Mag. Mar. 602/2 The established physicians shook their heads. They never believed in ‘women doctors’. 1893 Dict. Nat. Biogr. XXXIV. 200 A procession, chiefly of women-workers. 1896 C. L. Dodgson (title) Resident women-students. 1898 Daily News 2 Dec. 5/1 The Guild of Women-Binders. 1930 A. Bennett Imperial Palace xi. 63 A strong sex-bias which had persuaded him that women-drivers were capable of any enormity. 1935 D. L. Sayers Gaudy Night vii. 147 There are much better ways of enjoying Oxford than fooling round‥with the women students. 1941 J. D. Carr Case of Constant Suicides xi. 142 What kind of a professor are you, anyway? Running around with women professors from other colleges. 1956 A. S. C. Ross in M. Black Importance of Lang. (1962) 97 The custom is now obsolescent, save perhaps between close women-friends. 1967 L. Meynell Mauve Front Door xi. 138, I switched off the engine and climbed out of the cab; bloody women drivers, I thought. 1971 Guardian 15 Apr. 11/1 The diocese of Hong Kong, the only diocese out of 300 to have stated openly its support for the ordination of women priests. Ibid. 11/2 In the Congregationalist church‥it can no longer be considered particularly unusual to have women ministers. 1975 Ibid. 21 Jan. 6/2 Creches should be provided at places where women journalists work. 1981 ‘J. Ross’ Dark Blue & Dangerous iv. 22 Did he have friends? Women friends? 1981 ‘A. Cross’ Death in Faculty ix. 106 Most women students‥don't really believe women professors actually exist.


b. objective, etc. synonymous with the corresp. combs. with woman (see 6c, 7).

1748 Richardson Clarissa (1768) IV. 159 As Daughters will (when women-grown especially). 1753–4 —— Grandison IV. xiii. 81 These women-frightening heroes. 1856 ‘C. Bede’ Tales of Coll. Life, Long-Vac. Vigil x, The Morning Post‥devoted‥half a column to these women-absorbing topics. 1896 Daily News 26 Dec. 2/2 A nation of women-supported men.


c. Special comb.: women-house Sc., a building set apart for women only; women liberators, women's liberationists (see sense 10 below); †women-matters pl., matters relating to women; women-men pl. (see woman-man, 7); womenpower, = woman-power, sense 7 above; †women-sleepers pl., female nurses (cf. woman-keeper in sense 7); †women-strikers pl. [striker n. 2d], prostitutes; women-suffrage = woman-suffrage (see 7); women-wise adv., in the fashion or way of women; women-years, pl. of woman-year, sense 7 above.

1792 Statist. Acc. Scot. II. 149 At these [bleach-] fields,‥there are a number of women not having families, nor residing in families, but in *women-houses, so called, erected on purpose. c1865 J. Shaw in R. Wallace Country Schoolm. (1899) 154 Large central buildings of the public works called ‘women-houses’. 1969 Time 21 Nov. 53 *Women Liberators at Atlantic City. 1632 B. Jonson Magn. Lady iv. ii, Keep these *women-matters‥in our own verge. 1864 Meredith Emilia xxxvi, Are there men-women and *women men?‥have we changed parts to-night? 1968 Ramparts Feb. 28 Her concept of *women power, then, is assimilation to achieve a grey-flannel equality for the purpose of bettering women's estate in society by having them beat the hell out of‥the men at the Establishment game. 1978 Daily Tel. 3 May 17/2 Consultants to advise businesses on‥how to improve their use of manpower (or womenpower for that matter). 1630 ? Dekker London looke back (1925) 190 When the Bell hath ceast tolling for thee, and thy *Women-sleepers leaue gaping for thy Linnen. 1665 Needham Med. Medicinæ 73 [Zacutus] hardly grants any possibility of *Women-strikers escaping [pox]. 1867 Times 4 Mar. 6/4 Mr. Mill upon *Women Suffrage. 1930 *Women-wise [see man-wise s.v. man n. 20a]. 1977 Lancet 29 Oct. 922/1 The latest report is based on 206 689 *women-years of observation.


10. Comb. with women's: women's-boat, a boat to be used by women only = umiak; women's college, a university college that admits only women as students; women's courses, †evil = catamenia; women's group, a group formed for the discussion or furtherance of the interests of women; Women's Institute, an organization of women in rural areas who meet regularly and engage in various social and cultural activities; †women's-kins, of the female sex; women's liberation, the liberation of women from subservient social status and all forms of sexism; also (usu. with cap. initial) a militant movement with these aims; also abbrev. as women's lib (cf. lib); hence women's libber [libber], liberationist; women's magazine = woman's magazine, sense 8 above; similarly women's mag; women's men, pl. of woman's man (see 8); women's movement, (a) = woman-movement s.v. woman n. 7; (b) the women's liberation movement (see above); women's page = woman's page, sense 8 above; women's room U.S. = ladies s.v. lady n. 4f; Women's Rural Institute: see rural a. 6; women's studies orig. U.S., academic studies concerning women, their role in society, etc.; women's suffrage = woman-suffrage (see 7); women's wear, clothing for women; women's work = woman's work, sense 8 above.

1823 Scoresby Jrnl. p. xxx, They had made a three years excursion along the eastern coast in a *women's-boat. 1867 Geo. Eliot Let. 22 Nov. (1956) IV. 401 There is a scheme on foot for a *women's college, or rather university‥to be in connection with the Cambridge university. 1920 A. N. Whitehead Concept Nature i. 7 Suppose that the expositor is in London, say in Regent's Park and in Bedford College, the great women's college which is situated in that park. 1948 M. Laski Tory Heaven vii. 92 The women's colleges at Oxford‥became reserved for B's. 1984 ‘A. Cross’ Sweet Death xi. 129 Can you offer me one reason for women's colleges these days? 1615 Crooke Body of Man 62 Where wee apply cupping glasses to bring down *womens courses. 1379 MS. Glouc. Cathedr. 19, i. iv. 2b, Menstrua. In Englyssh *wymmens yvell. 1968 Ramparts May 8 Your attitude was condescending throughout, and your analysis of radical *women's groups‥amounted to a movement fashion report. 1977 Evening Post (Nottingham) 27 Jan. 4/4 He is a solicitor‥and while in Paris he was invited to talk to an American women's group. 1906 Rep. Women's Institutes Province of Ontario 69 After placing before them the aims and objects of the *Women's Institute‥the warden kindly assured us that he was‥in sympathy with our work. 1909 Jrnl. Home Econ. I. 161 The usual practice has been to hold the Women's Institute on the same day‥as the institute for men. 1912 Rep. Farm & Agricultural Schools & Colleges in France, Germany, & Belgium (Board of Educ.) 20 The success which has followed the formation of Women's Institutes in Poland, the United States, and Canada incited some social and agricultural reformers in Belgium to organise similar means of education. Ibid. 20 The Women's Institute is an association of farmers' wives, daughters, and sisters who meet periodically‥to hear lectures, read papers, and study books on professional subjects. 1921 Daily Colonist (Victoria, B.C.) 20 Mar. 32/2 The first general meeting of the Victoria Women's Institute‥was held Friday afternoon. 1924 [see scout n.4 2c (a)]. 1935 N. & Q. 2 Feb. 87/2 The Women's Institute of the old village of Cambo. 1982 Daily Tel. 25 Nov. 14/6 With reference to the letter from a Women's Institute member in Yorkshire regarding the splitting up of the Yorkshire federation [etc.]. 1534 Will of Sir W. Butler (Somerset Ho.), Euerye of my seruauntes as well menskynes as *womenskynnes. 1969 Time 21 Nov. 15 ‘My twelve-year-old son has been hearing a lot about *Women's Lib lately,’ says Ruth. 1971 Times 17 July 5/8 Ecology‥one Texas paper said recently, has replaced women's lib as the people's favourite cause. 1976 P. & W. Proctor Women in Pulpit i. 10 The earring criticism soon subsided as they got used to her and saw that she wasn't interested in staging women's lib demonstrations. 1971 *Women's libber [see libber]. 1973 Lancet 24 Feb. 419/1 We have heard a lot lately from unhappy ones of one kind and another—the women's libbers, the occasional bleat from the male side, [etc.]. 1978 J. Galway Autobiogr. ii. 16 It sounds now like a good case for the women's libbers but my mother was essentially a happy woman. 1985 Observer (Colour Suppl.) 14 Apr. 23/2 What the women's libbers don't realise is that what they denigrate as domestic drudgery is exactly the right sort of thing to be doing when you are mucking around with the under-twos. 1966 New Left Rev. Nov./Dec. 12 Fourier was the most ardent and voluminous advocate of *women's liberation and of sexual freedom among the early socialists. 1967 New Left Notes 10 July 4/1 The SDS National Convention adopts the following statement and program as written by the Women's Liberation Workshop. 1974 L. Deighton Spy Story v. 55 Women's Liberation‥planned to march to Westminster. 1978 S. Sheldon Bloodline iv. 64 There were rumors that Hélène Roffe was an advocate of the women's liberation movement. 1969 Leviathan (Berkeley, Calif.) June 43/1 The radical *women's liberationists believe that the true extent of women's oppression can be revealed and fought only if the women's liberation movement is dominated by working class women. 1979 R. Rendell Means of Evil 147 Sheila singing lustily, Sylvia, the Women's Liberationist, with less assurance as if she doubted the ethics of lending her support to so‥sexist a ceremony. 1959 Observer 18 Jan. 19/2 The daydream world of *women's mags. 1942 D. Powell Time to be Born ii. 42 All Vicky could do was to read the *women's magazines and discover how other heroines had solved this problem. 1960 K. Amis New Maps of Hell iii. 81 Art is mentioned‥with a frequency not even paralleled in women's-magazine stories. 1981 J. B. Hilton Playground of Death vi. 72 There were shopping notes, memos‥a pile of women's magazines. 1712 Addison Spect. No. 536 ⁋2 That part of Mankind who are known by the Name of the *Womens-Men or Beaus. 1781 R. King Mod. Lond. Spy 59 We now drank our tea, which, to what are called women's men, is at that time of the evening generally very agreeable. 1902 H. Blackburn Women's Suffrage vi. 107 The Married Women's Property Bill occupied the main attention of those engaged in the *women's movement. 1944 G. Myrdal American Dilemma App. 5 The women's movement got much of its public support by reason of its affiliation with the Abolitionist movement. 1968 Ramparts Feb. 31 The most active of the new radical women's movements is in Berkeley—which should surprise no one. 1985 Observer (Colour Suppl.) 14 Apr. 18/3 She champions women who simply want to stay at home with their babies without a lot of pressure from the women's movement. 1929 E. Linklater Poet's Pub xiii. 154 She had had two or three articles accepted for the *women's page of the Daily Day. 1980 M. Babson Dangerous to Know i. 8 There weren't all that many openings for Women's Page Editors around the Street these days. 1961 Webster, *Women's room. 1977 M. French (title) The women's room. 1981 ‘A. Cross’ Death in Tenured Position i. 5 The women's room on the ground floor. 1972 Newsweek 10 Dec. 124/3 In the classroom, many women think less of competing with men than of learning about themselves. ‘*Women's studies’ was nearly unknown before 1970; now 78 institutions have complete women's studies programs. 1976 Spare Rib Nov. 14/2 Last year there was one women's studies course here. This year four are planned. 1868 Times 11 May 10/4 A branch of the National Society for *Women's Suffrage. 1919 Mencken Amer. Lang. iv. 121 *Women's wear, in English shops, is always ladies' wear. 1980 Times 22 Jan. 9/6 Austin Reed is planning to open a womenswear area in the Regent Street branch. 1974 R. Adams Shardik xxv. 209, I can't help wondering why he trims lamps at noon. Or why he trims lamps at all, if it comes to that, seeing it's *women's work and he has that girl to help him. 1977 Undercurrents June–July 41/3 Spinning, weaving, knitting, crocheting, sewing are women's work and are called crafts.