50 Lines a Woman

woman: n. “an adult female human being”

Woman is a remarkable word insofar as its origin is concerned. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) expends fifty lines detailing the evolution of the word’s spelling and pronunciation from Old English through Middle English, Anglo-Welsh, and Modern English. The modern spelling was first recorded in the late thirteenth century, with the plural form women not appearing until a century later. By the fourteenth century, both woman and women appeared consistently in print.

The original ninth-century Anglo-Saxon form, wifman, was created by combining wif and man. As in German, Old English nouns were fully inflected—meaning, among other things,...


is a retired secondary teacher of English and philosophy. For forty years he challenged students to dive deep into the classics of the Western canon, to think and write analytically, and to find the cultural constants reflected throughout that literature, art, and thought.

This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #66, Fall 2023 Copyright © 2023 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/article/salvo66/50-lines-a-woman


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