- a female child, from birth to full growth.
- a young, immature woman, especially formerly, an unmarried one.
- a daughter: My wife and I have two girls.
- Informal: Sometimes Offensive. a grown woman, especially when referred to familiarly: She's having the girls over for bridge next week.
- a girlfriend; sweetheart.
- Older Use: Usually Offensive. a female servant, as a maid.
- Older Use: Usually Offensive. a female employee, especially an office assistant.
- a female who is from or native to a given place: She's a Missouri girl.
- girls, (used with a singular or plural verb)
- a range of sizes from 7 to 14, for garments made for girls.
- a garment in this size range.
- the department or section of a store where these garments are sold.
- girls, Slang. one's breasts (usually preceded by the, my, etc., and primarily used self-referentially by women).
Origin of girl
Referring to one's female office assistant or housekeeper as the girl or my girl, once in common use, is now considered unacceptable. Working girl, meaning “a woman who works,” girl/gal Friday, meaning “a female office assistant,” and other occupational terms such as career girl and college girl, are also dated and often perceived as insulting. Working girl as a slang term meaning “a prostitute” is sometimes used by female prostitutes as a euphemistic self-reference. See also lady, woman.
Examples from the Web for girl
The brother of a girl who made her debut in New Orleans society was shaking his fists in excitement.The Louisiana Racists Who Courted Steve Scalise
January 3, 2015
Once upon a time, a girl named Onika Maraj dreamed of being an actress.Nicki Minaj: High School Actress
Alex Chancey, The Daily Beast Video
December 30, 2014
But religious tolerance would be a wholesome goodie for every boy and girl.Santa Fails One More Time
P. J. O’Rourke
December 27, 2014
They made quiet plans together, saying that when they had a child together, they wanted a girl called Grace.A Sunni-Shia Love Story Imperiled by al Qaeda
December 26, 2014
During his early attempts to become a director, he met Alma Reville, an English girl just one day younger than himself.Alfred Hitchcock’s Fade to Black: The Great Director’s Final Days
December 13, 2014
You know that Milbrey girl must get her effrontery direct from where they make it.
To have married a girl who cared only for his money; that would have been dire enough.
Percival fancied there was a look almost of regret in the girl's eyes.
Going back amazed, he asked his companion who the girl he had seen could have been.The Armourer's Prentices
Charlotte M. Yonge
They awoke one morning to find the car on a siding at the One Girl mine.
- a female child from birth to young womanhood
- a young unmarried woman; lass; maid
- informal a sweetheart or girlfriend
- informal a woman of any age
- an informal word for daughter
- a female employee, esp a female servant
- Southern African derogatory a Black female servant of any age
- the girls (usually plural) informal a group of women, esp acquaintances
Word Origin and History for girl
c.1300, gyrle "child" (of either sex), of unknown origin; current scholarship [OED says] leans toward an unrecorded Old English *gyrele, from Proto-Germanic *gurwilon-, diminutive of *gurwjoz (apparently also represented by Low German gære "boy, girl," Norwegian dialectal gorre, Swedish dialectal gurre "small child," though the exact relationship, if any, between all these is obscure), from PIE *ghwrgh-, also found in Greek parthenos "virgin." But this is highly conjectural. And Liberman (2008) writes:
Girl does not go back to any Old English or Old Germanic form. It is part of a large group of Germanic words whose root begins with a g or k and ends in r. The final consonant in girl is a diminutive suffix. The g-r words denote young animals, children, and all kinds of creatures considered immature, worthless, or past their prime.
Another candidate is Old English gierela "garment" (for possible sense evolution in this theory, cf. brat). Like boy, lass, lad it is of obscure origin. "Probably most of them arose as jocular transferred uses of words that had originally different meaning" [OED]. Specific meaning of "female child" is late 14c. Applied to "any young unmarried woman" since mid-15c. Meaning "sweetheart" is from 1640s. Girl next door as a type of unflashy attractiveness is recorded by 1953.
Doris [Day] was a big vocalist even before she hit the movies in 1948. There, as the latest movie colony "girl next door," sunny-faced Doris soon became a leading movie attraction as well as the world's top female recording star. "She's the girl next door, all right," said one Hollywood admirer. "Next door to the bank." ["Life" magazine, Dec. 22, 1958]
Girl Friday is from 1940, a reference to "Robinson Crusoe."