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Kinsa

Why do I keep seeing the word "women" spelled as "womyn"?

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Language can change and does all the time; changing the spelling seems...just silly to me. If the point is that women need a different label why not a completely different word?

 

I've seen 'non-men' recently used to describe women. Super progressive. 

 

Sorry. As a feminist, I am keeping woman - an adult member of the ova producing class. Of the class who can gestate, birth and breastfeed her young. 

 

Every actual feminist I know is currently fighting to keep her right to 'woman', forget fancy spellings...

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I've seen 'non-men' recently used to describe women. Super progressive.

 

Sorry. As a feminist, I am keeping woman - an adult member of the ova producing class. Of the class who can gestate, birth and breastfeed her young.

 

Every actual feminist I know is currently fighting to keep her right to 'woman', forget fancy spellings...

Non-men?!?

 

Yeah...weird...

 

We could change the name for men instead, I rather favor the old term were--as in were-wolf.

 

Then we could be women and weren.

 

I'm starting a campaign :tongue_smilie:

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Non-men?!?

 

Yeah...weird...

 

We could change the name for men instead, I rather favor the old term were--as in were-wolf.

 

Then we could be women and weren.

 

I'm starting a campaign :tongue_smilie:

 

Yep, men and non-men. In the name of...get this...inclusivity! The Greens, UK, I think. If anyone was in doubt that queer ideologies are anti women and regressive, that should have been a wake up call. 

 

lol, weren. In the spirit of doing unto others, even men (jk), I can't support your campaign, but I like the word :)

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It's not at all dismissive to be OK with "women". Most women (including me!) are ok with it.

What's dismissive is or mocking people who prefer a different term. You have ever right to feel that way, of course, but. no way around it, it is dismissive.

It's putting a middle finger up at someone's personal identity.

Now if someone yells at YOU about using the term woman to describe yourself, you can absolutely fight against that.

But "Beverly calls herself a womyn, that's silly, I refuse to take that seriously" is disrespectful. And just mean.

It’s not about someone wanting to refer to themselves this way, it’s about the next politically correct term coming out that progessives (maybe not all, but “the powers to beâ€) are going to insist that everyone accept as the new norm.

 

It’s way overthinking the issue, and no one needs to get their feelings hurt because someone says that it’s silly to change a letter in a word, that’s still pronounced the same way, and then think that some amazingly empowering thing just happened.

Edited by Fifiruth
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Using the word women has never made me feel as you described above.  it is just a word.  A word that feminists have decided to attach negative connotations to. Using womyn and womxn is nonsensical to me and I just can't take it seriously.

 

Well, we women (womyn--whatever)  are still human and we menstruate.

She has "he" in.

 

Not a hill to die on.

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Well, we women (womyn--whatever) are still human and we menstruate.

She has "he" in.

 

Not a hill to die on.

Menses is the root of menstruation; relates to the moon.

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In general no it's not.  But really on my list of problems women face, it's just not on the list for me. And I don't like people changing language rules.  That bugs me.  LOL

 

Language rules are always changing. People are acting like language is this static thing that we've always been speaking in the same way. :)

 

That said, I'm not a fan of the word womyn, even though I definitely understand and sympathize with the reasons it was created.

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It’s not about someone wanting to refer to themselves this way, it’s about the next politically correct term coming out that progessives (maybe not all, but “the powers to beâ€) are going to insist that everyone accept as the new norm.

 

It’s way overthinking the issue, and no one needs to get their feelings hurt because someone says that it’s silly to change a letter in a word, that’s still pronounced the same way, and then think that some amazingly empowering thing just happened.

Feeling empowered comes from within. If this spelling gives someone that feeling then more power to them.

On a personal level I haven't seen anyone use this spelling since the 70's which is why I find it fascinating that there seems to be a resurgence.

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So, after a bit of etymological research, the bit about woman meaning "of man" is nonsense. Man in Old English was a generic term for humankind, with wer used for adult male humans and wif for adult female humans. At some point wif became wifman--female human. And at a later point wer fell out of favor and was replaced by man for adult males.

 

If we want to change something perhaps we could use werman and wi(f)man.

 

Or we could, yaknow, just use the words we have without twisting ourselves into knots.

Edited by maize
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It’s not about someone wanting to refer to themselves this way, it’s about the next politically correct term coming out that progessives (maybe not all, but “the powers to beâ€) are going to insist that everyone accept as the new norm.

 

It’s way overthinking the issue, and no one needs to get their feelings hurt because someone says that it’s silly to change a letter in a word, that’s still pronounced the same way, and then think that some amazingly empowering thing just happened.

 

"Something amazingly empowering" -- again with the scorn and disdain.

No one is insisting you use this term, or that' it's the new norm. No one at all. It's not a thing.

 

I'm curious, are there other politically correct terms that you feel that the "the powers that be" have forced you to use ?  

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It’s not about someone wanting to refer to themselves this way, it’s about the next politically correct term coming out that progessives (maybe not all, but “the powers to beâ€) are going to insist that everyone accept as the new norm.

 

It’s way overthinking the issue, and no one needs to get their feelings hurt because someone says that it’s silly to change a letter in a word, that’s still pronounced the same way, and then think that some amazingly empowering thing just happened.

 

 

 

There is nothing wrong with a person using a term to refer to themselves that they made up/uses novel spelling. Nothing wrong with them using it in a social setting where it is accepted and understood by that group.

 

But when people outside those settings are coerced into using your made up terminology/spellings, ...something is very, very wrong. We should police language in public and work spheres as narrowly as possible, not as broadly as we can get away with. See Canada's Bill C-16 for examples of government compelled speech. 

 

I note the 'womyn' users are not engaged in mass compulsion regarding the term. 

Edited by StellaM
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Yeah, but do we take them seriously ??!!

 

That list is not appearing in any of my poems any time soon :)

 

Vape and selfie seemed to be entrenched at this point so I am not sure what your point is/

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The original use at the musical festival had specific language excluding transgender.

 

Because it was a women's music festival. Excluding persons sexed male, regardless of how they 'identify'.

 

Until the transactivist community shut it down. Because nothing says 'progressive' like attacking women, and women's spaces.

Edited by StellaM
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Vape and selfie seemed to be entrenched at this point so I am not sure what your point is/

 

Oh, no point really, just that they are ugly words. Irrelevant to the main discussion, as neither are used in order to further ideological agendas.

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If an individual asked me to use womyn to refer to them, specifically, I would honor that.  I see it no different than someone who's name is X asking to be called Y instead.  For whatever reason, they don't like X.  I'd assume it's just their preference and defer to it.

 

I mainly don't plan to change terms myself for what I use in general nor do I feel the personal need to identify with anything other than woman or female.

 

If culture eventually changes, so be it.  I just don't see it as a hill to die on - or even fight about.

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People who sew are now called "sewists," actually. It was a new term to me when I started quilting several years ago. I think it has been used in other countries more than in the US. Maybe this is how they are getting around the tailor/seamstress question. 

 

 

Oh, thank God they've settled on something. For several years during the transition (seamstress to sewist) I kept seeing people refer to "sewers" online all the time! For example, in a mom's group: "Sewers, can you tell me how to repair this cloth diaper?" 

 

I loathe 'sewists'. It's an ugly word, replacing otherwise functional words. 

 

It is better than sewer. LOL

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I haven't seen that word in print since I left college 20 years ago.

 

I see it very occasionally on websites run by college kids (men and women).

 

I appreciate the sentiment of not being some kind of "sub-man", but the reality is we have many words which mean things that are not evinced by their etymology. Female may be a derivative of male, and woman may be a derivative of man, etymologically, but biologically, all mammals are "female" first (hence, nipples). If men can put up with nipples I can put up with the word "man" in the name of my gender.

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Hm, I haven't read any replies yet but I haven't seen anyone do that in years, unless it was a reference to people doing it in the past.

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How do you pronounce ‘womxn’?? It is super awkward and jarring to read.

My first thought is..... female X-Men.

 

As for womYn, the only time I've seen that in print is reading up on Wicca. Of course that doesn't indicate the word's origin, it's just the only time I've personally seen it.

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I haven't seen that word in print since I left college 20 years ago.

 

I see it very occasionally on websites run by college kids (men and women).

 

I appreciate the sentiment of not being some kind of "sub-man", but the reality is we have many words which mean things that are not evinced by their etymology. Female may be a derivative of male, and woman may be a derivative of man, etymologically, but biologically, all mammals are "female" first (hence, nipples). If men can put up with nipples I can put up with the word "man" in the name of my gender.

Since you mention nipples, it is worth pointing out that female is NOT a derivative of male but rather comes from a proto-Indo-European root meaning "to suckle".

 

Male has a different derivation entirely.

 

Once again highlighting the ridiculousness of getting worked up over perceived slights in the spelling of words.

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I do wonder if in a college context womyn is being used to signal a certain - lack of buying in - to current dogma. Seeing as it harks back to rad fem second wave. 

 

 

Edited by StellaM
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Since you mention nipples, it is worth pointing out that female is NOT a derivative of male but rather comes from a proto-Indo-European root meaning "to suckle".

 

Male has a different derivation entirely.

 

Once again highlighting the ridiculousness of getting worked up over perceived slights in the spelling of words.

 

I think that you are right that we shouldn't get worked up.

 

However, I can see that if you believe that women comes from the roots for "wife of man", you could feel it was somewhat demeaning, until you realize how words come to be used as they are. It's not about spelling but about how we describe the world.

 

Thank you for the link. Here's another one:

 

https://www.etymonline.com/word/woman

 

Honestly, much of this work is speculative to some extent but I'm going to suffer the undergrads their moment and let them think through it themselves.

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If an individual asked me to use womyn to refer to them, specifically, I would honor that.  I see it no different than someone who's name is X asking to be called Y instead.  For whatever reason, they don't like X.  I'd assume it's just their preference and defer to it.

 

I mainly don't plan to change terms myself for what I use in general nor do I feel the personal need to identify with anything other than woman or female.

 

If culture eventually changes, so be it.  I just don't see it as a hill to die on - or even fight about.

 

I don't know - asking for individualization of nouns referring to groups seems a bit ridiculous to me - it kind of makes the whole idea of group designations pointless.  "Here we are in a women's book group, except for Shirley who is a womyn, and Leah and Sarah who are womxn."

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I do wonder if in a college context womyn is being used to signal a certain - lack of buying in - to current dogma. Seeing as it harks back to rad fem second wave. 

 

Maybe, but another possibility is that it comes out of people getting into choosing their identifiers in general, which seems a big thing now.  

 

I guess we'd have to see who is actually using it.  Or it could just be a young people thing.

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I think that you are right that we shouldn't get worked up.

 

However, I can see that if you believe that women comes from the roots for "wife of man", you could feel it was somewhat demeaning, until you realize how words come to be used as they are. It's not about spelling but about how we describe the world.

 

Thank you for the link. Here's another one:

 

https://www.etymonline.com/word/woman

 

Honestly, much of this work is speculative to some extent but I'm going to suffer the undergrads their moment and let them think through it themselves.

But woman did not come from "wife of man". Wif meant woman, female--not wife as we now understand it.

 

Our word queen derives from a term that meant wife.

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I do wonder if in a college context womyn is being used to signal a certain - lack of buying in - to current dogma. Seeing as it harks back to rad fem second wave.

I agree. I also don't assume that second wavers were ignorant about etymology.

I've seen it especially in lesbian separatists communities, and can appreciate their reasons.

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But woman did not come from "wife of man". Wif meant woman, female--not wife as we now understand it.

 

Our word queen derives from a term that meant wife.

 

I'm not an etymologist. I'm just linking to the best online source I can find. I'd love to read more about it.

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I don't know - asking for individualization of nouns referring to groups seems a bit ridiculous to me - it kind of makes the whole idea of group designations pointless.  "Here we are in a women's book group, except for Shirley who is a womyn, and Leah and Sarah who are womxn."

 

I'm thinking more in personal terms - like if a student wanted it that way in written correspondence to them.  Your example is a general group - a women's group.  As I stated, I don't plan on changing it there unless culture eventually changes over.  Then I would.  The specific spelling just doesn't bother me one way or another TBH.

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Could someone explain why the x is more inclusive than the y in the replacement words? 

 

Yeah, the X just looks silly and unpronounceable.

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Yeah, the X just looks silly and unpronounceable.

Everyone has an x chromosome?

 

Random guess.

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Could someone explain why the x is more inclusive than the y in the replacement words? 

 

It started with latinx.  Instead of saying 'latinos' (which is the technically the gender-neutral way of describing a group of all male or male and female Latino people), some men and women switched to using 'latinx' as a truly gender neutral term.  Pronounced la-teen-ex.

 

The term "womyn" has sometimes been associated with feminists who do not want anything to do with transgender women.  So the term womxn is sometimes used to be more inclusive.   Trans-friendly radical feminists.  Both pronounced the same as the standard spelling, women.

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I'm thinking more in personal terms - like if a student wanted it that way in written correspondence to them.  Your example is a general group - a women's group.  As I stated, I don't plan on changing it there unless culture eventually changes over.  Then I would.  The specific spelling just doesn't bother me one way or another TBH.

 

The problem I would have with that is trying to remember which people preferred which terms. 

 

Honestly, I have better things to think about than whether every woman I know wants to be referred to as a woman, a womyn, or a womxn. I am sure I would mess it up at some point and end up offending everyone. I guess I'd just have to start calling everyone, "ladies," although I'm sure someone would find that offensive as well. 

 

Of course, I say this as someone who hasn't seen the term "womyn" since the early 80's when I took a women's studies course in college. I thought the term was ridiculous and unnecessary at the time, and it doesn't sound any better to me now. I'm certainly not anti-feminism, but I don't see any particular value in referring to myself as anything other than a woman. If other women want to use the term, I don't particularly care either way, but I don't think it makes them better or more effective feminists than anyone else who uses the standard term.

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It started with latinx.  Instead of saying 'latinos' (which is the technically the gender-neutral way of describing a group of all male or male and female Latino people), some men and women switched to using 'latinx' as a truly gender neutral term.  Pronounced la-teen-ex.

 

The term "womyn" has sometimes been associated with feminists who do not want anything to do with transgender women.  So the term womxn is sometimes used to be more inclusive.   Trans-friendly radical feminists.  Both pronounced the same as the standard spelling, women.

 

This is the first time I have seen the term, "latinx."   I'm not crazy about that term, either, although I'm not of that descent, so I'm not in a position to tell them what to call themselves. 

 

I am apparently way behind the times because some of the current gender-neutral stuff seems entirely unnecessary to me.  :)

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All words are invented. 

 

We add words to our language all the time. iPod, selfie, vape, covfefe ....

 

Yes, to describe something NEW.  Women already exist.

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How do you pronounce "womyn" and "womxn"?

 

And are these terms plural? If so, what is the singular?

 

And as a comment, if this really has been around since the 1970's and this is the first I've heard of it - and I happen to be a woman myself - then I'm guessing this bandwagon hasn't got many passengers.

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Yes, to describe something NEW.  Women already exist.

 

So did Negros.

 

 

 

I don't know why this riles people up so much.    It doesn't affect you at all!    

 

I keep thinking of how people get all irritated if they are judged for referring to people as "illegals" instead of "undocumented immigrants".    Is it like that?

 

Or is it more like, you feel like someone is standing over you in judgement saying the term "women" is bad / wrong / stupid.  Is that it? 

 

That is most definitely how my mom felt when I didn't change my name when I got married, lol.  "Just do it, you'll feel ridiculous afterwards for making a fuss".  (She came around later....)

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I think that your first source suggests that the word "woman" is derived indeed from wifman, derived from woman-man. Which is the objection of some.

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Actress is a special case.  For many years actress was used as a euphemism for sex worker.  I'm not sure that it is perceived like that now, so I'm not sure that it's crucial to change the usage, but it's worth considering.

 

Both my mother and my grandmother were actresses.

 

 

Ahhh.... must be the same as masseuse/masseur in this country.  I faced that a lot when I became a massage therapist (preferred term du jour) back in the early 90s. 

 

We used to say the easiest way to tell if she's a massage therapist or sex worker is to look at her nails.  A real massage therapist will always have extremely short nails. 

Edited by umsami

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I think that your first source suggests that the word "woman" is derived indeed from wifman, derived from woman-man. Which is the objection of some.

Old English man though did not mean male, it meant human.

 

If they want to object to something they could object that the meaning of man shifted to become the new word for male human, thus making it less useful as a generic term.

 

Then they could (as I suggested upthread) start a renaming effort aimed at the male sex.

 

It could be argued, based on etymology, that removing man from the term woman is insulting in that it removes the "human" designator in the name, suggesting that women cannot claim full humanity :tongue_smilie:

Edited by maize
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Why is the word "lady" not used?  Is there something offensive about it?

 

I once heard (I can't remember where so maybe it is inaccurate) that the word "woman" came from "woe to man".

 

I do know that "husband" comes from "husbandry" which means ownership.  Why are so few offended by this?  I know some people use "partner" or something else but not many.

 

Why do we still find it okay to identify people by their gender, especially in a world that is becoming complex in terms of gender identity?  We have done away with identifying people by their ethnicity, race and religion unless it is relevant to what we are talking about.  For example, if a woman who happens to be of Asian descent is organizing a sporting event for children, a newspaper article will not refer to her as an "Asian" or "Asian woman" because today we would consider that wrong but the article will call her a woman.  We do not use the word "person" or "people" much in this context even though her gender might be completely irrelevant to the event and what she is doing.  

 

Do you understand what I'm saying?  Why don't we use the word "person" more often?  Why is it okay to use "man" or "woman" to describe people when it is not relevant?  Can this not lead to greater discrimination?  Do you think we will start using "person" more in the future?  These are just things I'm wondering.

 

 

 

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I once heard (I can't remember where so maybe it is inaccurate) that the word "woman" came from "woe to man".

 

I do know that "husband" comes from "husbandry" which means ownership.  Why are so few offended by this?  I know some people use "partner" or something else but not many.

 

On the contrary, husbandry derives from husband. 

 

 

 

c. 1300, "management of a household;" late 14c. as "farm management;" from husband (n.) in a now-obsolete sense of "peasant farmer" (early 13c.) + -ery.

 

I've added the derivation of husband as well.

 

 

 

Old English husbonda "male head of a household, master of a house, householder," probably from Old Norse husbondi "master of the house," literally "house-dweller," from hus "house" (see house (n.)) + bondi "householder, dweller, freeholder, peasant," from buandi, present participle of bua "to dwell" (from PIE root *bheue- "to be, exist, grow," and compare bond (adj.)). Beginning late 13c. it replaced Old English wer as "married man (in relation to his wife)" and became the companion word of wife, a sad loss for English poetry. 

 

The "woe to man" is a folk etymology btw. 

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Menses is the root of menstruation; relates to the moon.

 

Now here is a word change I could get behind. 'Moonstruation' sounds a lot more like how I feel during those times of the month.   

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I'm thinking more in personal terms - like if a student wanted it that way in written correspondence to them.  Your example is a general group - a women's group.  As I stated, I don't plan on changing it there unless culture eventually changes over.  Then I would.  The specific spelling just doesn't bother me one way or another TBH.

 

I understand what you're getting at, but the word women, even for an individual, is fundamentally a category word.  If Creekland is a woman, we're saying she is part of a group of people with something in common.  

 

So to me, to individualize that kind of word (which would be a bit different than trying to convince everyone to change words) is in a sense erasing the universal designation.  You'd then almost need to introduce a new word to describe whatever the original word was talking about, or lose the ability to express that idea in language.

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I don't think there is any danger of womyn taking over general usage, as has been stated this is more of an old thing, I've not really seen it in ages.

 

I don't feel the need to identify as such but I can understand and appreciate the reasoning and don't find it threatening. 

 

I found the etymology information very interesting, sometimes we don't get the facts straight.

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I understand what you're getting at, but the word women, even for an individual, is fundamentally a category word.  If Creekland is a woman, we're saying she is part of a group of people with something in common.  

 

So to me, to individualize that kind of word (which would be a bit different than trying to convince everyone to change words) is in a sense erasing the universal designation.  You'd then almost need to introduce a new word to describe whatever the original word was talking about, or lose the ability to express that idea in language.

 

I don't think so.  I don't see it any different than a student at school spelling their name as Nicole, Nichole, or Nikole - then add Nikki, Nik and any other variation you can think of (all of which I've had with real students).  I can learn each and use them accordingly.  I can even start calling Nicole "Susie" if she prefers it.  I still have to use Nicole on anything "group" wise (like official grades) or whatever.  All of this I'm fully willing and able to do.  It doesn't confuse my mind a bit TBH.

 

Like the PP, I don't really see womyn or womxn taking hold overall.  Personally, I'm losing no sleep over it.

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I once heard (I can't remember where so maybe it is inaccurate) that the word "woman" came from "woe to man".

 

Nonsense. The root -man at that time meant "person". A woman is a wife-man, a female person. (A male person would be a wer-man.) Due to the principle of Q-based narrowing, the word "wer" fell out of use except in the delightful term "werewolf", and "man" came to mean just "a male adult human". And you could have looked this up in any dictionary. You did not have to rely on hearsay.

 

(As a note, human is completely unrelated.)

 

Edited by Tanaqui
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