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See more synonyms for girl on Thesaurus.com
  1. a female child, from birth to full growth.
  2. a young, immature woman, especially formerly, an unmarried one.
  3. a daughter: My wife and I have two girls.
  4. Informal: Sometimes Offensive. a grown woman, especially when referred to familiarly: She's having the girls over for bridge next week.
  5. a girlfriend; sweetheart.
  6. Older Use: Usually Offensive. a female servant, as a maid.
  7. Older Use: Usually Offensive. a female employee, especially an office assistant.
  8. a female who is from or native to a given place: She's a Missouri girl.
  9. girls, (used with a singular or plural verb)
    1. a range of sizes from 7 to 14, for garments made for girls.
    2. a garment in this size range.
    3. the department or section of a store where these garments are sold.
  10. girls, Slang. one's breasts (usually preceded by the, my, etc., and primarily used self-referentially by women).
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Origin of girl

1250–1300; Middle English gurle, girle, gerle child, young person; compare Old English gyrela, gi(e)rela, item of dress, apparel (presumably worn by the young in late OE period, and hence used as a metonym)

Usage note

Some adult women are offended if referred to as a girl, or informally, a gal. However, a group of adult female friends often refer to themselves as the girls, and their “girls night out” implies the company of adult females. Also, a woman may express camaraderie by addressing another woman as girl, as in You go, girl! or Attagirl!
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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for girl

daughter, adolescent, teenager, lady, she, schoolgirl, damsel, mademoiselle, Ms, lassie

Examples from the Web for girl

Contemporary Examples of girl

Historical Examples of girl

  • You know that Milbrey girl must get her effrontery direct from where they make it.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • To have married a girl who cared only for his money; that would have been dire enough.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • Percival fancied there was a look almost of regret in the girl's eyes.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • 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.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

British Dictionary definitions for girl


  1. a female child from birth to young womanhood
  2. a young unmarried woman; lass; maid
  3. informal a sweetheart or girlfriend
  4. informal a woman of any age
  5. an informal word for daughter
  6. a female employee, esp a female servant
  7. Southern African derogatory a Black female servant of any age
  8. the girls (usually plural) informal a group of women, esp acquaintances
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Word Origin for girl

C13: of uncertain origin; perhaps related to Low German Göre boy, girl


The use of girl as in meaning 4, to refer to a woman of any age, is highly likely to be considered old-fashioned or to cause offence
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 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."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper