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From Late Latin muliebritās (womanhood; womanliness), from Latin muliēbris (feminine, womanly) + -tās (suffix forming nouns indicating a state of being); or from muliēbris +‎ -ity; compare Middle French muliebrité.[1] Muliēbris is derived from mulier (woman; wife) (from mollior (softer; milder; weaker), comparative form of mollis (soft; mild, tender; weak), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *mel- (soft; tender; weak)) + -brīs (noun suffix denoting a person).



muliebrity (countable and uncountable, plural muliebrities)

  1. (literary) The state or quality of being a woman; the features of a woman's nature; femininity, womanhood.
    Synonyms: femaleness, femineity, womanishness, womanliness, womanness
    Antonyms: masculinity, manhood, manliness, mannishness, virility
    • 1592?, attributed to Thomas Kyd, The Tragedye of Solyman and Perseda. [], Printed by Edward Allde for Edward White, [], →OCLC, signature G2, verso; republished as The Tragedie of Soliman and Perseda. [], London: Printed by Edward Allde, for Edward White, [], 1599, →OCLC, Act I:
      The Ladies of Rhodes hearing that you have loſt, / A capitoll part of your Lady ware, / Haue made their petition to Cupid, / To plague you aboue all other, / As one preiuditiall to their muliebritie.
    • 1653, François Rabelais, Thomas Urquhart and Peter Anthony Motteux, transl., “How Rondibilis Declareth Cuckoldry to be Naturally One of the Appendances of Marriage”, in The Works of Francis Rabelais, Doctor in Physick: Containing Five Books of the Lives, Heroick Deeds, and Sayings of Gargantua, and His Sonne Pantagruel. [], London: [] [Thomas Ratcliffe and Edward Mottershead] for Richard Baddeley, [], →OCLC; republished in volume I, London: [] Navarre Society [], [1948], →OCLC, book the third, page 460:
      [I]n the devising, hammering, forging and composing of the Woman, she hath had a much tenderer regard, and by a great deal more respectful heed to the delightful Consortship, and sociable Delectation of the Man, than to the Perfection and Accomplishment of the individual Womanishness, or Muliebrity.
    • 1858 July, [Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.], “The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table. Every Man His Own Boswell.”, in The Atlantic Monthly. A Magazine of Literature, Art, and Politics, volume II, number IX, Boston, Mass.: Phillips, Sampson and Company, []; London: Trübner and Company, →OCLC, page 241; republished as chapter IX, in The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table. Every Man His Own Boswell, Boston, Mass.: Phillips, Sampson and Company, 1858, →OCLC, page 251:
      The second of the ravishing voices I have heard was, as I have said, that of another German woman. [] it had so much woman in it,—muliebrity, as well as femineity; []
    • 1888, Bret Harte, “[A Phyllis of the Sierras] chapter V”, in A Phyllis of the Sierras and A Drift from Redwood Camp, Boston, Mass., New York, N.Y.: Houghton, Mifflin and Company [], →OCLC, page 152:
      [T]his tall, handsome, gentlemanly-looking woman, who, however, in spite of her broad shoulders and narrow hips possessed a refined muliebrity superior to mere womanliness of outline, []
    • 1904 September, H. B. Marriott-Watson [i.e., H[enry] B[rereton] Marriott Watson], “The American Woman: An Analysis”, in James Knowles, editor, The Nineteenth Century and After: A Monthly Review, volume LVI, number CCCXXXI, London: Spottiswoode & Co. Ltd., printers [], →OCLC, page 435:
      Civilisation has achieved a very elaborate woman, but the elaboration is unimportant from the point of view of science. It is decorative; the structure endures; the heart of modern woman is the heart of her savage ancestress dressed and adorned and furnished. This permanence of muliebrity serves to indicate the requirements of natural law. Woman may not depart from it to any considerable extent without impairing her position and nullifying her functions.
    • 1911, H[erbert] G[eorge] Wells, “Margaret in London”, in The New Machiavelli, London: John Lane; The Bodley Head [], →OCLC, book the second (Margaret), § 2, page 207:
      She had not married, I suppose because her standards were high, and men are cowards and with an instinctive appetite for muliebrity.
    • 1922, [Beckles Willson], “The Effemination of England”, in England: By an Overseas Englishman, London: John Lane; The Bodley Head Ltd. [], →OCLC, pages 181–182:
      Yet a nation is said to become effeminate [] when the attributes which distinguish the female are acquired by the male population—when the customs and habits which are proper to the women are assumed by the men. As both principles are necessary, may not one infer that the qualities generated by both principles are necessary to a nation,—that in proportion as the muliebrity of the one sex declines, the virility of the other also lessens, in an endeavour to adjust the moral machine?
    • 1928, A[braham] V[an] H[eyningen] Hartendorp, editor, Philippine Magazine, Manila: A. V. H. Hartendorp, →OCLC, page 509, column 1:
      Again, there has grown up among our little people a feeling of delicacy in regard to dealing with certain relatives of the other sex and with all other such muliebrities as are within marriageable age. Thus if a Pygmy man is tripping along the trail and happens to descry one of such women coming his way, sexual politeness requires him either to turn tail and retrace his steps or to make a detour []
  2. (literary) The state of attainment of womanhood following maidenhood.
  3. (physiology) The state of puberty in a female.

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  1. ^ muliebrity, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, March 2003; muliebrity”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

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