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feminine

[fem-uh-nin]
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adjective
  1. pertaining to a woman or girl: feminine beauty; feminine dress.
  2. having qualities traditionally ascribed to women, as sensitivity or gentleness.
  3. effeminate; womanish: a man with a feminine walk.
  4. belonging to the female sex; female: feminine staff members.
  5. Grammar. noting or pertaining to that one of the three genders of Latin, Greek, German, etc., or one of the two genders of French, Spanish, Hebrew, etc., having among its members most nouns referring to females, as well as other nouns, as Latin stella “star,” or German Zeit “time.”
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noun Grammar.
  1. the feminine gender.
  2. a noun or other element in or marking that gender.
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Origin of feminine

1350–1400; Middle English < Anglo-French, Old French: feminine of feminin < L of fēminīnus, equivalent to fēmin(a) woman (see fetus) + -īnus -ine1
Related formsfem·i·nine·ly, adverbfem·i·nine·ness, nounan·ti·fem·i·nine, adjectivean·ti·fem·i·nine·ly, adverban·ti·fem·i·nine·ness, nounhalf-fem·i·nine, adjectivehy·per·fem·i·nine, adjectivehy·per·fem·i·nine·ly, adverbhy·per·fem·i·nine·ness, nouno·ver·fem·i·nine, adjectiveo·ver·fem·i·nine·ly, adverbpseu·do·fem·i·nine, adjectivesu·per·fem·i·nine, adjectiveul·tra·fem·i·nine, adjectiveun·fem·i·nine, adjectiveun·fem·i·nine·ly, adverb
Can be confusedfemale feminine (see synonym study at female)effeminate effete feminine womanish womanly (see synonym study at womanly)

Synonyms

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2. See female.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

ladylike, soft, tender, womanly, female, dainty, effeminate, womanish

Examples from the Web for feminine

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Simple Alleyne opened his eyes at this little spurt of feminine bitterness.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • Did she have a heart, then, or was it a feminine trait to turn pale in every emergency?

  • But dancing was the only feminine accomplishment with which she had any acquaintance.

    Biographical Stories

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • "'Tis nothing," she answered, refusing his support with feminine reserve.

    The Last of the Mohicans

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • His own nature partook of the feminine, and he shared its intuitions and its fears.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown


British Dictionary definitions for feminine

feminine

adjective
  1. suitable to or characteristic of a womana feminine fashion
  2. possessing qualities or characteristics considered typical of or appropriate to a woman
  3. effeminate; womanish
  4. grammar
    1. denoting or belonging to a gender of nouns, occurring in many inflected languages, that includes all kinds of referents as well as some female animate referents
    2. (as noun)German Zeit ``time'' and Ehe ``marriage'' are feminines
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Derived Formsfemininely, adverbfeminineness, noun

Word Origin

C14: from Latin fēminīnus, from fēmina 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 feminine

adj.

mid-14c., "of the female sex," from Old French femenin (12c.) "feminine, female; with feminine qualities, effeminate," from Latin femininus "feminine" (in the grammatical sense at first), from femina "woman, female," literally "she who suckles," from root of felare "to suck, suckle" (see fecund). Sense of "woman-like, proper to or characteristic of women" is recorded from mid-15c.

The interplay of meanings now represented in female, feminine, and effeminate, and the attempt to make them clear and separate, has led to many coinages: feminitude (1878); feminile "feminine" (1640s); feminility "womanliness" (1838); femality (17c., "effeminacy;" 1754 "female nature"). Also feminality (1640s, "quality or state of being female"), from rare adjective feminal (late 14c.), from Old French feminal. And femineity "quality or state of being feminine," from Latin femineus "of a woman, pertaining to a woman."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper