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From Middle English female, an alteration of Middle English femele, femel, from Old French femele, femelle(female), from Medieval Latin femella(a female), from Latin femella(a young female, a girl), diminutive of femina(a woman). The English spelling and pronunciation were remodelled under the influence of male, which is not etymologically related. Contrast woman, which is etymologically built on man.



female ‎(not comparable)

  1. Belonging to the sex which typically produces eggs and/or has XX chromosomes.
    • 1987, Don't Shoot[,] Darling!: Women's Independent Filmmaking in Australia, page 350:
      A travelling shot of a harbour view near Sydney's White Bay moves into a domestic interior as a female voice says, 'There was nowhere else to live except alone.'
  2. Belonging to the feminine gender (social category).
  3. (grammar, less common than 'feminine') Feminine; of the feminine grammatical gender.
    • 2012, Naomi McIlwraith, Kiyâm: Poems (ISBN 1926836693), page 43:
      The teacher's voice inflects the pulse of nêhiyawêwin as he teaches us. He says a prayer in the first class. Nouns, we learn, have a gender. In French, nouns are male or female, but in Cree, nouns are living or non-living, animate or inanimate.
  4. (figuratively) Having an internal socket, as in a connector or pipe fitting.


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  • (see below)



female ‎(plural females)

  1. One of the female (feminine) sex or gender.
    1. (sometimes offensive) A human member of the feminine sex or gender.
    2. An animal of the sex that produces eggs.
    3. (botany) A plant which produces only that kind of reproductive organ capable of developing into fruit after impregnation or fertilization; a pistillate plant.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Due to its zoological use, some find this dehumanizing if applied to people.



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