femme fatale

[fem fuh-tal, -tahl, fey-; French fam fa-tal]

noun, plural femmes fa·tales [fem fuh-talz, -tahlz, fey-; French fam fa-tal] /ˌfɛm fəˈtælz, -ˈtɑlz, feɪ-; French fam faˈtal/.

an irresistibly attractive woman, especially one who leads men into difficult, dangerous, or disastrous situations; siren.

Origin of femme fatale

< French: literally, fatal woman
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for femme fatale

vamp, courtesan, temptress, enchantress, flirt, seductress, siren, coquette

Examples from the Web for femme fatale

Contemporary Examples of femme fatale

  • She's the femme-fatale on steroids and on the surface, she seems to suggest the writer's belief in gender equality.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Why Crime Novelists Don't Get Women

    Christopher Rice

    April 12, 2010

British Dictionary definitions for femme fatale

femme fatale

noun plural femmes fatales (fam fatal, English ˈfɛm fəˈtælz, -ˈtɑːlz)

an alluring or seductive woman, esp one who causes men to love her to their own distress

Word Origin for femme fatale

fatal 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 femme fatale

"attractive and dangerous woman," 1895, from French femme fatale, attested by 1844, from French femme "woman," from Latin femina (see feminine) + fatale (see fatal).

Une femme fatale est une femme qui porte malheur. [Jules Claretie, "La Vie a Paris," 1896]

Earlier, such a woman might be called a Circe.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper