man / woman
Two basic words in the language are man and woman. Naturally given the fundamental nature of these words, we would expect these to have Old English roots and this is indeed the case. All the Germanic languages use the word man (in some form or another) to mean both a human being and a male person. English is no exception. Bald’s Leechbook, a manuscript dating to c.900 uses man in the sense of a female human being:
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Gif wife to swiþe offlowe sio monað gecynd, genim niwe horses tord, lege on hate gleda, læt reocan swiþe betweoh þa þeoh up under þæt hrægl, þæt se mon swæte swiþe.
(If a woman has a strong monthly flow from her genitals, take a fresh horse turd, place it on a hotly glowing coal, and let the smoke slowly rise up between the thighs and under the clothing of the man who is strongly bleeding.)
Copyright 1997-2015, by David Wilton