[ fee-meyl ]
/ ˈfi meɪl /



Nearby words

  1. felwort,
  2. fem,
  3. fem lib,
  4. fem.,
  5. fema,
  6. female chauvinist,
  7. female circumcision,
  8. female condom,
  9. female impersonator,
  10. female rhyme

Origin of female

1275–1325; Middle English, variant (by association with male) of femelle < Anglo-French, Old French femel(l)e < Latin fēmella, diminutive of fēmina woman (see -elle); in VL developing the sense “female of an animal”

1. See woman. 4–7. Female, feminine, effeminate are adjectives that describe women and girls or attributes and conduct culturally ascribed to them. Female, which is applied to plants and animals as well as to human beings, is a biological or physiological descriptor, classifying individuals on the basis of their potential or actual ability to produce offspring in bisexual reproduction. It contrasts with male in all uses: her oldest female relative; the female parts of the flower. Feminine refers essentially to qualities or behaviors deemed by a culture or society to be especially appropriate to or ideally associated with women and girls. In American and Western European culture, these have traditionally included features such as delicacy, gentleness, gracefulness, and patience: to dance with feminine grace; a feminine sensitivity to moods. Feminine is also, less frequently, used to refer to physical features: a lovely feminine figure; small, feminine hands. Effeminate is most often applied derogatorily to men or boys, suggesting that they have character or behavior traits culturally believed to be appropriate to women and girls rather than to men: an effeminate horror of rough play; an effeminate speaking style. See also womanly.

Related formsfe·male·ness, nounan·ti·fe·male, adjectiveun·fe·male, adjective

Can be confusedfemale feminine (see synonym study at the current entry)

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for femaleness

British Dictionary definitions for femaleness


/ (ˈfiːmeɪl) /



  1. a female animal or plant
  2. derogatorya woman or girl
Derived Formsfemaleness, noun

Word Origin for female

C14: from earlier femelle (influenced by male), from Latin fēmella a young woman, from fēmina a woman

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for femaleness
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for femaleness


[ fēmāl′ ]


Of, relating to, or denoting the sex that produces ova or bears young.


A member of the sex that produces ova or bears young.
A woman or girl.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for femaleness


[ fēmāl′ ]


In organisms that reproduce sexually, being the gamete that is larger and less motile than the other corresponding gamete (the male gamete) of the same species. The egg cells of higher animals and plants are female gametes.
Possessing or being a structure that produces only female gametes. The ovaries of humans are female reproductive organs. Female flowers possess only carpels and no stamens.
Having the genitalia or other structures typical of a female organism. Worker ants are female but sterile.


A female organism.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.