woman

woman
\ \ [OE] A woman is etymologically a ‘wife-man’ – that is to say, a ‘female person’.
\ \ The word was compounded in the Old English period from wīfwoman’ (source of modern English wife) and manperson’ (source of modern English man). Already by the end of the Old English period the f of wifman was disappearing, giving wiman, and the influence of the w sound started to turn this into woman in the 13th century. Woman did not finally oust the two more ancient words for ‘female person’, wife and the now obsolete quean, until the end of the Middle English period.
\ \ Cf.MAN, WIFE

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

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