Woman - Etymology

Etymology

In Old English, wīfmann meant "female human", whereas wēr meant "male human". Mann or monn had a gender-neutral meaning of "human", corresponding to Modern English "person" or "someone", however subsequent to the Norman Conquest, man began to be used more in reference to "male human", and by the late 1200s had begun to eclipse usage of the older term wēr. The medial labial consonants f and m in wīfmann coalesced into the modern form "woman", while the initial element, which meant "female," underwent semantic narrowing to the sense of a married woman ("wife").

A very common Indo-European root for woman, *gwen-, is the source of modern English "queen" (Old English cwēn had primarily meant woman, highborn or not; this is still the case in Danish, with the modern spelling kvinde, as well as in Swedish kvinna). The word gynaecology is also derived from the Ancient Greek cognate γυνή gynē, woman. Other English words traceable to the same Indo-European root include banshee "fairy woman" (from Irish bean "woman" and "fairy") and zenana (from Persian زن zan).

The Latin fēmina, whence female, is likely from the root in fellāre (to suck), in reference to breastfeeding.

Read more about this topic:  Woman

Other articles related to "etymology":

Kennesaw, Georgia - History - Etymology
... The name Kennesaw is derived from the Cherokee Indian word gah-nee-sah meaning cemetery, or burial ground. ...
Zarphatic Language - Etymology
... Zarphatic was written using a variant of the Hebrew alphabet, and first appeared in the 11th century, in glosses to texts of the Hebrew Bible and Talmud written by the great rabbis Rashi and Rabbi Moshe HaDarshan ... Constant expulsions and persecutions, resulting in great waves of Jewish migration, brought about the extinction of this short-lived, but important, language by the end of the 14th century ...
Passenger Pigeon - Taxonomy and Systematics - Etymology
... In the 18th century, the Passenger Pigeon in Europe was known to the French as tourtre but, in New France, the North American bird was called tourte ... In modern French, the bird is known as the pigeon migrateur ...
Algae - Etymology and Study
... The etymology is obscure ... The etymology is uncertain, but a strong candidate has long been some word related to the Biblical פוך (pūk), "paint" (if not that word itself), a cosmetic eye-shadow used by the ...

Famous quotes containing the word etymology:

    The universal principle of etymology in all languages: words are carried over from bodies and from the properties of bodies to express the things of the mind and spirit. The order of ideas must follow the order of things.
    Giambattista Vico (1688–1744)

    Semantically, taste is rich and confusing, its etymology as odd and interesting as that of “style.” But while style—deriving from the stylus or pointed rod which Roman scribes used to make marks on wax tablets—suggests activity, taste is more passive.... Etymologically, the word we use derives from the Old French, meaning touch or feel, a sense that is preserved in the current Italian word for a keyboard, tastiera.
    Stephen Bayley, British historian, art critic. “Taste: The Story of an Idea,” Taste: The Secret Meaning of Things, Random House (1991)