I've heard a lot of people over the years utter the same misconception; that woman is a combination of womb and man. This is in fact incorrect. Woman does not have sexist undertones; the origins are in fact platonic. The word originally was wimman, which meant "adult female". Going further back, this was the infamous word wifman, also the direct origin of the word "wife", after a dropping of -man. Wifman is a combination of two words; that being wif, "female" and man, meaning "human". Yes, man used to be a gender neutral word meaning "person" and still exists today in reference to all of humankind, and also as a male, a term which developed later. Man is from the reconstructed Proto-Germanic word manwaz, which stems from the Proto-Indo-European root man, also referring to "people". As such a ubiquitous term, man has altered very little over time. Wif as a prefix for wifman also traces back to Proto-Germanic and the word wiban, still referring to a female. Though the origin for this is uncertain, but it has been theorized to come from several (theorized) PIE words, the two most common theories being that it came from a word meaning "female genitalia" and that it came from an early word for "shame". If the latter is true, the word is sexist, but not in the way most people think. Really, woman means "female human".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.