OED Redefines Woman

Oxford English Dictionary updates definition of 'woman' following claims it was sexist.

The OED launched a gender review last autumn of its dictionary and thesaurus entries in response to 'user feedback' including a petition on the word 'woman' which gathered over 30,000 signatures. The petition called on Oxford University Press, the dictionary’s publisher, to remove all phrases and definitions that “discriminate against and patronise women” as well as those which “connote men’s ownership of women”.  


For over a century, the dictionary has chronicled the evolution of the English language, declaring that it “reflects rather than dictates” how it is used. Now the OED has acknowledged for the first time that a woman can be a “person’s” wife, girlfriend or lover as opposed to only a “man’s”.


Its new definition of “woman” is longer and includes several new phrases such as “woman of the match”,  “woman of the moment” and “woman of the house”. It also features new working examples, including “a female member of a workforce, team, etc” as well as “with that money, a woman could buy a house and put two kids through college”.


As for the previously included synonyms, “wench” has been removed but “bint” and “bitch” remain but are now labeled as “offensive” and “derogatory” respectively. 


The old definition of woman included “a man’s wife, girlfriend or lover” but in the new one, this has been updated to read “a person’s wife, girlfriend or female lover”. 


A similar change was made to the definition of the word man, which was also updated as part of the review. Previously the definition included “a husband or lover” but this was changed to “a person’s husband, boyfriend or male lover”, reports The Telegraph.


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