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Alternative forms[edit]


A group of girls in Sri Lanka.

From Middle English gerle, girle, gyrle (young person (boy or girl)), perhaps from Old English *gyrele,[1] from Proto-West Germanic *gurilā, from a zero-grade diminutive of *gaurā (young child) +‎ *-ilā. Ultimately of unknown origin.[2][3]



girl (countable and uncountable, plural girls)

  1. A young female human, or sometimes a young female animal.
  2. (sometimes offensive, see usage note) A woman, especially a young and often attractive woman.
  3. A female servant; a maid. (see usage notes)
    Synonyms: char, charlady, charwoman, maid, maiden, maidservant, womanservant
  4. (card games, slang, uncommon) A queen (the playing card).
  5. (colloquial) A term of endearment. (see usage notes)
    Synonyms: girlie, lass, lassie
    • 1991, Stephen Fry, The Liar, London: Heinemann, →OCLC, pages 8-9:
      'Now, girls,' continued Healey, 'you're very high-spirited and that's as it should be but I won't have you getting out of hand...' Setting a spatted foot on the bench that ran down the middle of the changing-room with elegant distain, Adrian began to flip through the pile of Y-fronts and rugger shorts with his cane.
  6. One's girlfriend.
    • 1922, Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Girl from Hollywood:
      There isn't any guy going to steal my girl!
    • 1996, Elizabeth Wong, Kimchee and Chitlins: A Serious Comedy about Getting Along, page 74:
      I took my girl to the cinema to watch your American movies.
  7. One's daughter.
    Your girl turned up on our doorstep.
  8. (UK, dialect, obsolete) A roebuck two years old.
  9. (US, slang, uncountable) Cocaine, especially in powder form.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:cocaine
    • 1969, Iceberg Slim, Pimp: The Story of My Life, Cash Money Content, published 2011, →ISBN, page 43:
      She had taught me to snort girl, and almost always when I came to her pad, there would be thin sparkling rows of crystal cocaine on the glass top of the cocktail table.
    • 1977, Odie Hawkins, Chicago Hustle, Holloway House, published 1987, →ISBN, page 175:
      Elijah nodded congenially to the early evening regulars in the Afro Lounge, headed straight for the telephone hung midway between the mens and womens, his nose smarting from a couple thick lines of recently snorted girl.
    • 2005, K'wan, Hoodlum, St. Martin's Press, →ISBN, page 185:
      After about an hour or two of half-ass sex and snorting girl, Honey was zoned out. [] She flexed her still numb fingers, trying to find a warmth that didn't seem to come. Cocaine always made her numb.
    • 2016 July 22, “Bussin” (track 3), in Fenix Flexin (lyrics), Shoreline Mafia (music), Party Pack[2]:
      Catch me playing with the plate, yeah I love the sauce
      White girl in my nose, I need to clean it off
    • For more quotations using this term, see Citations:girl.
  10. (somewhat childish) A female (tree, gene, etc).
    • 1950, Pageant:
      Are there “boy” trees and “girl” trees? Yes. A number of species, among them the yew, holly and date-bearing palm, have their male and female flowers on different trees. The male holly, for instance, must be planted fairly close to the female ...
    • 1970 [earlier 1963], Helen V. Wilson, Helen Van Pelt, Helen Van Pelt's African Violets, Dutton Adult (→ISBN):
      Of the 100 percent total, 25 will have two girl genes, 50 will have one boy and one girl gene, and 25 will have two boy genes.
    • 1972, GSN Gesneriad Saintpaulia News: African Violets, Gloxinias, Other Gesneriads and Exotic Plants:
      When there are two "girl" genes the plant is a girl dwarf.
  11. (informal) A machine or vehicle, especially one that the speaker uses often and is fond of.
    • 1917 June 29, Les Enfant, “The Trials of Commuter Jones—a Would-Be Pumber”, in Metal Worker, Pumber, and Steam Fitter, volume 87, number 26, page 874:
      Daly came, delved into the old girl's inner works, and had her working in jig time.
    • 2017, David Walliams [pseudonym; David Edward Williams], Bad Dad, London: HarperCollins Children’s Books, →ISBN:
      “Quiet, everyone!” said Dad as he tried desperately to start the car. GRRR… GRRR… GRRR… Instead of shuddering into life, Queenie let out a low, grinding noise. “Oh no,” said Dad.
      “What?” asked the boy.
      “The engine must have flooded when she went upside down. The poor old girl won’t start again now for hours. We’re going to have to walk.”
    • 2013, Rose George, Deep Sea and Foreign Going:
      The tired old girl was listing heavily in the heavy seas.
    • 2024, William Halford, POR! Prince of Borland, page 58:
      I ran to my car and jumped in. "Come on, girl, start for me, baby!"

Usage notes[edit]

  • (any woman, regardless of her age): An adult calling an unfamiliar grown woman a "girl" may be considered either a compliment or an insult, depending on context and sensibilities. In some cases, the term is used as a euphemism for virgin, to distinguish a female who has never engaged in sexual intercourse (a "girl") from one who has done so (and is a woman). Even if the word "girl" in most cases is not meant to be derogatory, it may still be patronising sometimes, especially when used to address someone older than oneself.
  • (term of endearment): When used as a term of endearment, it can be used for someone female or, in some contexts, for someone male, such as the use within the gay community.

Derived terms[edit]

Pages starting with “girl”.


  • Hungarian: görl
  • Japanese: ガール (gāru)


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.


  1. ^ girl(e, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007: “?OE *gyrela, from earlier *gurw-”.
  2. ^ Friedrich Kluge (1989), “Gör”, in Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache [Etymological Dictionary of the German Language] (in German), 22nd edition, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, →ISBN, page 272
  3. ^ Torp, Alf (1919), “Gorre”, in Nynorsk Etymologisk Ordbok, Oslo: H. Aschehoug and Co. (W. Nygaard), page 176
  4. ^ Jespersen, Otto (1909) A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles (Sammlung germanischer Elementar- und Handbücher; 9)‎[1], volume I: Sounds and Spellings, London: George Allen & Unwin, published 1961, § 12.63, page 351.


girl (third-person singular simple present girls, present participle girling, simple past and past participle girled)

  1. (transitive) To feminize or girlify; to gender as a girl or as for girls.
    • 2005, Leerom Medovoi, Rebels: Youth and the Cold War Origins of Identity, page 293:
      Quite different is the way in which the tomboy girled the rebel narrative. In recent years, queer theorists have taken a deep interest in the tomboy as a prefigure for the butch dyke.
    • 2011, Stephanie Harzewski, Chick Lit and Postfeminism:
      One can argue that the genre “yuppified” the popular romance novel or perhaps “girled” the not especially gender-specific concept of the young urban professional.
  2. (somewhat informal) To staff with or as a girl or girls.
    • 1949, The New Yorker:
      Making our way past a one-girl switchboard temporarily girled by two frantic operators, we found the victorious president, Elliott A. Bowles, barely visible behind a heap of telegrams [...]
    • 1961, The Georgia Review:
      Her first shock came when the ship on which she and her husband arrived was met by three boats “girled” by “great, splendid creatures, as tall as our millionaires' tallest daughters, and as strong-looking as any of our college-girl athletes,” ...
    • 1986, Marcus Cunliffe, The Literature of the United States, New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Penguin Books, →ISBN:
      She and her Altrurian diplomat husband, arriving there by sea, are greeted by flower-laden boats, each not manned, but girled by six rowers, who pulled as true a stroke as I ever saw.
    • 2009, Linda Howard, Night Moves: Dream Man/After the Night, Simon and Schuster, →ISBN, page 220:
      To her disappointment, the chatty Carlene DuBois wasn't behind the desk; instead it was manned—or girled—by a frothy little blonde who barely looked old enough to be out of high school.

See also[edit]





girl f (plural girls)

  1. dancing girl

Further reading[edit]



Metathesis of grill (shudder (with horror, dread, etc), shiver (as on hearing a grating sound), from Old Scots gril, from Middle English grillen (shudder, quake, be afraid; enrage), from Old English griellan, grillan (offend, annoy; gnash one's teeth at).



  1. to shiver or shudder
  2. to tingle unpleasantly, when hearing a grating noise or biting into an acidic or unripe fruit