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Other usages of she[edit]

"she" is also used for cities and the planet Venus, maybe also for the Moon/moon (cp. with sun#Usage notes) and spring or all season (from "spring, with all the memories she conjures up."). But I don't if all these usages of she are attestable.

  • 1868, E. S. G. S., Italy and her capital, page 170:
    Rome is the heart of Italy [...]. She [i.e. the city Rome] was, is, and must ever be, her capital.
  • The Illustrated London Almanack 1867, London, page 45:
    Venus rises on the 1st day 1/4 to 5 a.m., and 4h. 25m. a.m. on the last day. [...] She [i.e. the planet Venus] is now beginning to move northward. [...]

- 05:04, 1 September 2017 (UTC)

I've expanded the "country" sense to include cities and expanded the "another machine" sense to include other things. - -sche (discuss) 00:32, 20 August 2019 (UTC)

"Gay she"[edit]

Some discussion of the "gay she" and related phenomena is at Talk:girl#RFV_discussion:_June–July_2018 and Wiktionary:Tea room/2019/April#you_go,_girl. - -sche (discuss) 00:32, 20 August 2019 (UTC)

There is also the "lesbian he" (some butch lesbian women using "he"). Maybe, although it doesn't rise to the level of a separate sense, it should be mentioned in a usage note? - -sche (discuss) 17:06, 21 April 2020 (UTC)
Then again, googling around, I can find shockingly little documentation of these phenomena (despite the "gay she" and "he/him lesbians" being a thing for quite some time), so maybe not! - -sche (discuss) 18:15, 21 April 2020 (UTC)
I doubt its necessary to mention in usage notes as its usually clear from the context why "she" is being preferred. I dont think theres a single culture out there that hasnt had effeminate men and hasnt occasionally used a feminine language, including pronouns, to refer to them. Gatchipatchi (talk) 13:55, 27 May 2020 (UTC)
@-sche: FWIW, I keep half an eye (cat-like) on the OED's quarterly "new words" updates, and I see that this year they did add a separate sense at she as used for (certain subtypes of) gay men. Equinox 23:08, 22 July 2020 (UTC)
Neat! And after some more digging, I located more references about it (and quotes going back to at least the 1930s). I'm going to add it, tentatively as a sense, though someone could make the case that it should just be a usage note since it's part, albeit a particularly noted and remarked-upon part, of a general phenomenon of gay/queer men using feminine words. Now I'll have to see if I can track down more on "he/him lesbians", that is, on cisgender women using he as part of being butch, like Leslie Feinberg did in some contexts, and like Stormé DeLarverie is claimed to have done in some contexts. - -sche (discuss) 06:19, 23 July 2020 (UTC)
As per previous discussions, my personal feeling is still that this isn't a separate sense of the word, but just a case of treating males as female (why didn't that OED update also have new senses for her, hers and herself? 'cause it didn't!). Still we can fix it another time if necessary. Equinox 06:53, 23 July 2020 (UTC)
Or to be a bit less opaque: being queer means breaking boundaries on purpose (putting a swear-word in genderfuck isn't an accident, it's a way to be anti-establishment). Once we say "the boundaries don't matter any more, men can be female" then this pronoun usage will no longer be subversive. Hahaha. Anyway. Whatever we can cite is real. Equinox 06:56, 23 July 2020 (UTC)
Yeah, I went back and forth on whether to add a sense or a usage note. One of the books I cited does mention gay men's use of other feminine terms (English-speaking gay men's use of e.g. Miss so-and-so, and French-speaking gay men's use of fille). I'll try converting it to a usage note and seeing how that looks. - -sche (discuss) 08:54, 23 July 2020 (UTC)
@-sche: Maybe you are familiar with "Miss Thing"! Equinox 18:40, 23 July 2020 (UTC)


Online Etym. Dictionary disagrees and says that it's from OE "seo", which replaced "heo" as the latter had become identical to "he". I'd say the development from "seo" to "she" seems a bit more straightforward than that from "heo" to "she", but my intention is not deny the latter possibility. I just think we shouldn't treat one etymology as fact when there is apparently no consensus. 00:34, 1 June 2021 (UTC)

This possibility can be dismissed for three reasons: firstly, there isn't any clear parallel for a change /seo̯/ > /ʃoː/, while /heo̯/ > /ʃoː/ has a parallel in Shetland. Secondly, the semantic evolution required, while it's possible, cannot be considered particularly likely. Thirdly, sēo was falling out of use in Early Middle English; a word that's on the cusp of obsolescence would hardly be a viable basis for a new 3sg.f pronoun. Hazarasp (parlement · werkis) 05:21, 1 June 2021 (UTC)