I've been trying to figure out a translation for "妇人“ from the story 《丈夫》 by 沈从文. He used 妇人to refer to women, but I'm not sure if it is ironic that it also means "married women" an accident, or if at the time of writing 1933 妇人 just mean woman.

Ex sentence.


  • 1
    Adult female, married in most case.
    – user4072
    Oct 1, 2014 at 4:09
  • Like Frau in German, or Madame in French, the word conveyed a woman old enough to be married in a culture where such a woman was assumed to be married. These things are changing now, In Chinese, and German, and French, but that is how it was. Jan 11, 2015 at 16:48

2 Answers 2


It usually means a female who is older than 30(I mean not a girl or a young woman) and married.

  • songyuanyao's comment so be the answer.
    – Pete C.
    Oct 3, 2014 at 22:17

You can call a married woman “妇人”,but you know ,in my daily life ,I just call anybody who looks in her thirties and more or looks like married “妇人”,and accroding to the modern Chinese dictionary,“妇人”or “妇女”just mean woman who is older than a certain age whether she's not married or not,but acrroding to baidu,“妇人”means married woman in the past. For a writer like 沈从文 and a book written in the old times,“妇人” can have many meanings.I think you must connect the poilt to decide which meaning it is.In your example(I found the original passage),it does means married woman because “丈夫” was mentioned before.But sometimes “妇人” just means woman or an image of those poor women who struggle to live their lives.

  • Right, and some of Shen Congwen's stories are set among the Miao people of Hunan, where he was from. I remember reading one about a hunter who abused his wife - women's rights were one of his themes if I'm not mistaken.
    – neubau
    Oct 3, 2014 at 15:16

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