Alternative formsEdit


From Middle English womanhoode, wommanhod, whomanhode, variants of wommanhede; synchronically analyzable as woman +‎ -hood.


  • IPA(key): /ˈwʊmənhʊd/
  • Hyphenation: wom‧an‧hood


womanhood (countable and uncountable, plural womanhoods)

  1. The state or condition of being a woman.
    • 1887, H. Rider Haggard, She: A History of Adventure[1]:
      "I swear, even in this most holy hour of completed Womanhood, that I will abandon Evil and cherish Good."
  2. All of the women of a given place, area, or subgroup regarded collectively.
    Synonym: womankind (universally: only synonymous when the meaning of womanhood is universal or worldwide)
    Antonyms: manhood, mankind
    • 1913, Rachel Galvin, quoting Margaret Sanger, “Margaret Sanger's "Deeds of Terrible Virtue"”, in Humanities[2], volume 19, number 5, National Endowment for the Humanities, published 1988, archived from the original on January 5, 2017:
      There was only one thing to be done: call out, start the alarm, set the heather on fire! Awaken the womanhood of America to free the motherhood of the world!
    • 1917, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, quoting Carlos F. Hurd, chapter II, in [Untitled, From the St. Louis Post Dispatch][3], July 3rd, 1917, quoted in The East St. Louis Massacre: The Greatest Outrage of the Century, retrieved November 19, 2020, page 12:
      [] the white women, several of whom had been watching the massacre of the Negro men, pounced on the Negress. I do not wish to be understood as saying that these women were representatives of the womanhood of East St. Louis. Their faces showed, all too plainly, exactly who and what they were.
    • 1920 [1909], Henry Van Dyke, “The Red Flower and Golden Stars”, in The Poems of Henry Van Dyke[4], dated to 1914–1916, new and revised edition, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, Jeanne d’Arc Returns, lines 1–5, page 384:
      What hast thou done, / O womanhood of France, / Mother and daughter, sister, sweetheart, wife, / What hast thou done, amid this fateful strife. // To prove the pride of thine inheritance / In this fair land of freedom and romance?
  3. The idealized nature of a woman: all of the characteristics traditionally and ideally ascribed to womanliness regarded collectively.
    Synonyms: womanishness, womanliness
    Antonyms: manhood, mannishness, manliness
    • 1887, H. Rider Haggard, She: A History of Adventure[5]:
      She had cast off the terror of the leaping flame, the cold power of judgment that was even now being done, and the wise sadness of the tombs - cast them off and put them behind her, like the white shroud she wore, and now stood out the incarnation of lovely tempting womanhood, made more perfect - and in a way more spiritual - than ever woman was before.
    • 2005, J. M. Coetzee, “Four”, in Slow Man, New York: Viking, →ISBN, page 31:
      From the kitchen comes the even murmur of their voices. Mother and daughter: the protocols of womanhood being passed on, generation to generation.
  4. The self-concept of a woman with respect to her possession of the various qualities traditionally and ideally ascribed to womanliness; a woman's sense or view of herself as being more or less womanly.
    Antonym: manhood
  5. (euphemistic) The female genitalia, especially the vulva.
    Hypernym: (slang) junk
    Antonym: manhood
    • 2007, Mark A. Cherpak, Circle of Fear: Uncharted Worlds:
      Easing down to her panties slowly as if investigating a carrier of a dangerous plague, both hands were quivering like it was contagious while feeling extraordinarily alarmed, he commenced to inspect her womanhood.

Coordinate termsEdit

Related termsEdit