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From Latin puella (female child, girl) + English -ile (suffix meaning ‘capable of; tending to’ forming adjectives), modelled after puerile.[1] Puella is derived from puellus (male child, young boy) + -a (feminine form of -us); puellus is a contraction of puerulus (little boy; little slave), from puer (boy, lad; male page, servant, or slave; child) (ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *peh₂w- (few, little; smallness)) + -ulus (suffix forming diminutives of nouns indicating small size or youth).



puellile (comparative more puellile, superlative most puellile)

  1. (formal, chiefly derogatory) Characteristic of, or pertaining to, a girl or girls.
    Synonyms: girlish, girllike, girly, puelline
    Antonyms: ungirlish, ungirly
    • 1858 May 16, Frederic Henry Hedge, MS letter to Henry W. Bellows; quoted in Ronald Vale Wells, Three Christian Transcendentalists: James Marsh, Caleb Sprague Henry, Frederic Henry Hedge (Columbia Studies in American Culture; no. 12), New York, N.Y.: Columbia University Press, 1943, →OCLC, page 97:
      One weak and puerile (or puellile; or anile) articles[sic] does a journal more harm than two good articles can neutralize.
    • 1891 April 29, Guardian, page 682, column 2; quoted in “Pue·llile, Pue·llular”, in James A. H. Murray, editor, A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles; [], volume VII (O, P), London: Clarendon Press, 1909, →OCLC, page 1568, column 2:
      [The tale] would be too puellile—may we coin a word?—for strictures, had not the writer challenged them by her introduction.
    • 1908, Arnold Haultain, “The Origin of Games”, in The Mystery of Golf: A Briefe Account of Games in Generall: Their Origine; [], Boston, Mass., New York, N.Y.: Houghton Mifflin Company, →OCLC, marginal note, page 12:
      Of pass-times puellile.
    • 1912 March 23, The Charlotte Daily Observer, Charlotte, N.C.: The Observer Company, →OCLC, page 4, column 5:
      Andrew Carnegie has found “the prettiest girl in the world” in Pittsburgh. Never having sojourned in North Carolina, Uncle Andy has no conception of what puellile loveliness can be.
    • 1937 April 30, Charles Gellner, “Evergreen Reflections”, in William M. Mahoney, editor, The Greyhound, volume X, number 9, Baltimore, Md.: Students of Loyola College, →OCLC, page 2, column 3:
      And little Audrey, too! What a rascal she is! Why, when she looked at her date for the prom, little Audrey just laughed and laughed … / All this, we admit, is rather puellile—(hooray, we’ve coined a word!) … And so we’ll become puerile at once—and give you the willies!
    • 1965 April 26, Lorne Parton, “See hear: Machine-made star”, in The Province, number 25, Vancouver, B.C.: Southam Press for Pacific Press, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 10, column 2:
      The dialogue with Ann-Margret on screen is puerile (or is it puellile?) and insulting to the audience.
    • 1991, California Supreme Court Records and Briefs: S019232, Petition for Review, page 3:
      We cannot credit the argument, which would require the trier to assume that the inscription represented a serious invitation and not simply puellile exhibitionism and, further, that the invitation was extended to any who might apply []
    • 1993, Jan Śrzednicki, “On the Possibility of Knowledge”, in Timo Airaksinen, Wojciech W. Gasparski, editors, Practical Philosophy and Action Theory (Praxiology: The International Annual of Practical Philosophy and Methodology; 2), New Brunswick, N.J., London: Transaction Publishers, →ISBN, part 3 (Knowledge and Action: Contributions from Other Milieux), pages 202–203:
      Serious acceptance of scepticism must be reserved for those who are puerile (or, to coin a feminist expression, puellile) and unworldly to the point of disability.
    • 1993 October 14, Richard Boston, “Video: School daze”, in Peter Preston, editor, The Guardian, London: Guardian News & Media, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 32, column 5:
      The Three Bears are pretty boring but the Bash Street Kids’ episodes combine mayhem and sheer lack of subtlety in nicely judged proportions. The humour is thoroughly puerile or, in the case of Minnie the Minx, puellile (and if such a word doesn’t exist, it does now).
    • 2004, S[aif] Rahman, “Yea, Verulam”, in Archipelago, [Tunbridge Wells, Kent]: Twenty First Century Publishers, →ISBN, section “Virginibus Puellisque”, subsection IV, page 28:
      “If we can put down boys by calling their behaviour puerile,” speculated Maria, “tell me why in all fairness why the reprehensible behaviour of ladettes and girlies shouldn’t be described as puellile?”
    • 2015 October 24–30, “Feedback”, in New Scientist, volume 228, number 3044, London: Reed Business Information, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 56, column 3:
      MORE tangled roots: Linda Grant previously defended hairdressing against the charge that it is a “puerile, superficial art”. But John Ponsonby says this description is “a curious thing to write, as few think of hairdressing as a boyish activity. Yet puerile is derived from puer, Latin for ‘boy’.” Given that it was gender stereotyping that got our styling tongs warmed up in the first place, Feedback imagines that hairdressing might be more pedantically disparaged as puellile.
    • 2017, Brother A.D.A., “Getting Started”, in The Magic of Catholicism: Real Magic for Devout Catholics, THAVMA Publications, →ISBN, section “The Use of Candles”, page 141:
      We now arrive at the part that everybody’s been waiting for: the theory is done, the spiritual preparation is underway, and the implements have been blessed; now how do we start casting spells? / Well, that’s the problem. We don’t cast spells, at least not on my watch. The word sounds so childish and so puellile that it doesn’t deserve to be used in connection with the processes of Catholic magic, no matter how simple.


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  1. ^ puellile, adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2007; puellile, adj.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.

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