"Womyn" is one of a number of alternative spellings of the word "women" used by some feminist writers.[1] There are many alternative spellings, including "wimmin", "womban", "wom!n". Writers who use alternative spellings see them as an expression of female independence and a repudiation of traditions that define females by reference to a male norm.[2]



In Old English sources, the word "man" was gender-neutral, with a meaning similar to the modern English usage of "one" as an indefinite pronoun. The words wer and wyf were used to specify a man or woman where necessary, respectively. Combining them into wer-man or wyf-man expressed the concept of "any man" or "any woman." Over time, in the context of a patriarchal social and legal system, wer-man was simplified to man while wyf-man developed into woman.[3][4] Feminists have suggested that the less prejudicial usage of the Old English sources reflects more egalitarian notions of gender at the time.[2]



"Womyn" appeared as a regular spelling of "woman" in the Scots poetry of James Hogg. Its usage as a feminist spelling of "women" (with "womon" as the singular form) first appeared in print in 1975 referring to the first Michigan Womyn's Music Festival,[5] an annual art festival that admits only womyn-born womyn.[6][7]


"Wimmin" appeared in 19th century renderings of African American English, without any feminist significance. Z. Budapest promoted the use of "wimmin" (singular "womon") in the 1970s as part of her Dianic Wicca movement, which claims that present-day patriarchy represents a fall from a matriarchal golden age.[8]

See also


  1. ^ D. Hatton. "Womyn and the 'L': A Study of the Relationship between Communication Apprehension, Gender, and Bulletin Boards" (abstract), Education Resources Information Center, 1995.
  2. ^ a b Neeru Tandon (2008) Feminism: A Paradigm Shift
  3. ^ Spender, Dale. Man-Made Language.
  4. ^ Miller, Casey, and Kate Swift. The Handbook of Non-Sexist Language.
  5. ^ "Womyn." Oxford English Dictionary.
  6. ^ http://eminism.org/michigan/20060822-mwmf.txt
  7. ^ Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture Issue 17, Summer 2002
  8. ^ Eugene V. Gallagher, W. Michael Ashcraft (2006) Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America

Further reading

  • Sol Steinmetz. "Womyn: The Evidence," American Speech, Vol. 70, No. 4 (Winter, 1995), pp. 429–437

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  • Womyn — est un néologisme dérivé du mot women (femmes en anglais) utilisé par certaines auteures féministes. Il y a beaucoup d orthographes alternatives, y compris wimmin, womban et wom! N. Les auteurs qui utilisent les orthographes alternatives les… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • womyn — is a non standard spelling of women, invented by feminists to replace the element men. It is used occasionally in North America but has little currency in Britain. See also wimmin …   Modern English usage

  • womyn — /wim in/, n.pl. women (used chiefly in feminist literature as an alternative spelling to avoid the suggestion of sexism perceived in the sequence m e n). [1975 80] * * * …   Universalium

  • womyn — n. women, female people(term used by feminists in order to remove the word MEN from within the word WOMEN and show that females are individuals and not just a variant of men) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • womyn — [ wɪmɪn] plural noun non standard spelling of ‘women’ adopted by some feminists in order to avoid the word ending in men …   English new terms dictionary

  • womyn — wom•yn [[t]ˈwɪm ɪn[/t]] n. pl. sex cvb women (used chiefly in feminist literature as an alternative spelling to avoid the suggestion of sexism perceived in the sequence m e n) • Etymology: 1975–80 …   From formal English to slang

  • womyn — variant of women used in some feminist contexts …   Useful english dictionary

  • Womyn-born-womyn — (an alternative spelling of women born women; see article on Womyn and more accurately termed Trans woman exclusionism) is a political term used by some feminists to establish themselves as feminist, woman identified women and is an extension of… …   Wikipedia

  • Michigan Womyn's Music Festival — The Michigan Womyn s Music Festival, called the Original Womyn s Woodstock [1] and often referred to as MWMF or Michfest, is an international feminist music festival occurring every August since 1976 near Hart, Michigan. The event is completely… …   Wikipedia

  • Camp Trans — is an annual demonstration held outside the Michigan Womyn s Music Festival by transwomen and their allies to protest the Festival s policy of excluding transwomen from attending.BackgroundThe Music Festival has its roots in lesbian feminist and… …   Wikipedia

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