The definition of the word “woman” has been given a refresh by the Oxford English Dictionary following complaints that it was sexist and excluded LGBT+ relationships. 

Previously describing women as “a man’s wife, girlfriend or lover,” Oxford Dictionary has amended the definition of the word, acknowledging that a woman can also be “a person’s wife, girlfriend, or female lover.”

Along with many other terms being updated and revised, additionally, Oxford Dictionary has also announced that the definition for the word “man” has also been updated to include the same gender-neutral terminology.


The Dictionary’s amended definitions include words such as “bitch”, “bint” and “besom”, which were listed as synonyms for a woman and deemed as “derogatory,” “offensive” or “dated.”

The changes and updated follow a petition that was launched earlier this year by campaigner Maria Beatrice Giovanardi to get rid of all phrases and definitions that discriminate against or patronise women.

Gaining more than 34,000 signatures the petition gained the support of key individuals and organisations including the leaders of Women’s Aid and the Women’s Equality Party.

In a statement to The Telegraph, publisher Oxford University Press explained that the dictionary is “driven solely by evidence of how real people use English in their daily lives.”

 “We have expanded the dictionary coverage of ‘woman’ with more examples and idiomatic phrases which depict women in a positive and active manner.

“We have ensured that offensive synonyms or senses are clearly labelled as such and only included where we have evidence of real-world usage.”