Oxford dictionary made changes to the definition of the word 'woman' Credit: Representational Image

Following extensive petitions from last year condemning the inclusion of sexist words as synonyms for the word ‘woman’, the Oxford University Press has changed the definition of the word in its latest gender review.

The new changes came after a petition last year by campaigner Maria Beatrice Giovanardi to get phrases and definitions that are discriminatory against women or patronise them removed. This petition aimed at removing synonyms of the word ‘woman’ such as “bitch, besom, piece, bit, mare, baggage, wench, petticoat, frail, bird, bint, biddy, filly” from the dictionary gained more than 30,000 signatures.

The world-famous dictionary in its latest edition has also acknowledged for the first time that a woman can be ‘a person’s wife, girlfriend or female lover’, instead of the earlier definition that was limited to ‘a man’s wife, girlfriend or lover’. The petition had demanded the elimination of all terms that focused on men’s ownership over women. It also wanted enlargement of the definition to include examples representative of minorities groups belonging to the LGBTQ community.

The campaign received support from the Women’s Aid and Women’s Equality party on this year’s International Women’s Day and demanded changes of the sexist definition. As per reports, the campaigners argued that women were presented as a subordinate or irrational in the dictionary, while examples offered for man were much more exhaustive.

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Although Maria is happy with the success of the campaign, she remains disappointed that while the word ‘bitch’ has been labeled as offensive in the dictionary, it continues to be listed as a synonym.

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