Usage. Feminine compounds ending in -WOMAN are equivalent to the masculine compounds in -MAN. When the person referred to is a woman, the feminine form is often, but not always, used: alderman, alderwoman; assemblyman, assemblywoman; chairman, chairwoman; congressman, congresswoman; spokesman, spokeswoman; businessman, businesswoman.However, some forms ending in -MAN are applied to women, and occasionally terms in -MAN are specified by legal code: Alderman Dorothy Lavelle. In general, the practice in current edited written English is to avoid the -MAN form in reference to a woman or the plural -MEN when members of both sexes are involved. Instead, a sex-neutral term is used: council members rather than councilmen and councilwomen; representative or legislator rather than congressman or congresswoman. See also chairperson, -man, -person.
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