man

Did you know that In Old English man was a gender neutral term

Although the word man originally referred to both males and females, some feel that it no longer does so unambiguously.

In Old English, the word wer referred to males only and wif to females only, while man referred to both, although in practice man was sometimes also used in Old English to refer only to males. In time, wer fell out of use, andman came to refer sometimes to both sexes and sometimes to males only; “[a]s long as most generalizations about men were made by men about men, the ambiguity nestling in this dual usage was either not noticed or thought not to matter.”

By the 18th century, man had come to refer primarily to males; some writers who wished to use the term in the older sense deemed it necessary to spell out their meaning. Anthony Trollope, for example, writes of “the infinite simplicity and silliness of mankind and womankind”, and when “Edmund Burke, writing of the French Revolution, used men in the old, inclusive way, he took pains to spell out his meaning: ‘Such a deplorable havoc is made in the minds of men (both sexes) in France….'”