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Origin of woman

• James Gleeson's letter of April 19 states that 'wo-man' comes from the Hebrew 'from man'.

The word woman actually comes from the Old English wifman. The 'man' part of wifman and werman (the Old English word for man) was a gender-neutral word for person, as it still is today in the words man and mankind.

Secondly, he states that celibacy was brought in to stop property falling into the hands of a priest's or bishop's family. While one of the reasons for celibacy was indeed to stop priests siphoning church wealth off to their children, the other was to stop corruption, which was particularly rife in Ireland where the politically powerful abbots were in many cases hereditary.

Of course, the celibacy rule did not completely stop this corruption, for a priest could still favour his nephew. This gave us the word nepotism, which is derived from the Latin word for nephew.

Brian Kelly
Athlone, Co Westmeath

Irish Independent