Jungfer

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German[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Weakened form of Jungfrau (cf. Dutch juffer). Both words originally mean “unmarried (noble) woman”, but have become semantically distinct.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

Jungfer f (genitive Jungfer, plural Jungfern, diminutive Jungferchen n)

  1. (archaic) maid, maiden; virgin
  2. unmarried woman; (old) maid, spinster
    Nach dem Krieg herrschte Männermangel und viele Frauen sind Jungfer geblieben.
    After the war, there was a deficit of men and many women stayed unmarried.
  3. (printing, archaic) Petit, a size of type between Kolonel and Bourgeois, standardized as 8 point

Usage notes[edit]

As with the English old maid, Jungfer is most often used in combination with the adjective alt (old): eine alte Jungfer. The term is used as an intensifier and does not necessarily denote the woman is actually elderly.

The word has decreased in usage with changing mores but is not yet dated. While not per se pejorative, it can connote a lack of social success and may be considered offensive.

Synonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]