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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, in mammals, 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 it dehumanizing to refer to women as "females".



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