female

1 of 2

adjective

fe·​male ˈfē-ˌmāl How to pronounce female (audio)
1
a(1)
: of, relating to, or being the sex that typically has the capacity to bear young or produce eggs
In a field of milkweed, I watched a female monarch butterfly deposit a single egg on the underside of a leaf.Tom Tyning
A few months later, she became the highest paid female performer on the Great White Way.Susannah McCorkle
(2)
botany : having or producing only pistils or pistillate flowers
a female holly
female inflorescences
b
: having a gender identity that is the opposite of male
c
: made up of usually adult members of the female sex : consisting of females
the female workforce
d
: characteristic of girls, women, or the female sex : exhibiting femaleness
composed for female voices
a female name
e
: designed for or typically used by girls or women
a female glove
f
: engaged in or exercised by girls or women
female suffrage
female political power
g
: having a quality (such as small size or delicacy of sound) sometimes associated with the female sex
female castanets
2
of a rhyme : having an unstressed final syllable : feminine sense 4b
a female rhyme
3
: designed with a hollow or groove into which a corresponding male part fits
the female coupling of a hose
femaleness noun

female

2 of 2

noun

1
a
: a female person : a woman or a girl
b
: an individual of the sex that is typically capable of bearing young or producing eggs
2
: a pistillate plant

Did you know?

In the 14th century, female appeared in English with such spellings as femel, femelle, and female. The word comes from the Latin femella, meaning “young woman, girl,” which in turn is based on femina, meaning “woman.” In English, the similarity in form and sound between the words female and male led people to use only the female spelling. This closeness also led to the belief that female comes from or is somehow related to male. However, apart from the influence of male on the modern spelling of female, there is no link between the origins of the two words.

Examples of female in a Sentence

Adjective Most extension cords have a male plug on one end and a female plug on the other. female standards of housekeeping imposed by the women at the vacation cottage weren't especially popular with the men Noun She attended a school where there were more males than females. Females of this species weigh 8 to 10 pounds.
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Each female mosquito can lay up to 200 eggs at a time. Mark Booth, CNN, 14 June 2024 The Italian artist and sculptor previously worked with the Royal Mint for the groundbreaking International Women’s Day release of the Britannia 2022 UK coin, which featured three female figures on the reverse image for the first time. Karu F. Daniels, New York Daily News, 14 June 2024
Noun
An anthropology examination showed the victim was a Black or mixed-race female, 18-24 years old, 5 foot 3 to 5 foot 6 with a slight build, and a distinctive gold tooth. Ben Poston, Los Angeles Times, 15 June 2024 Emma Helfrich - Arizona Humane Society Willow: Shy, sweet, and has extra toes Willow is a 6-year-old affectionate female. The Arizona Republic, 14 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for female 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'female.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English, alteration of femel, femelle, from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French femele, from Medieval Latin femella, from Latin, girl, diminutive of femina

First Known Use

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of female was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near female

Cite this Entry

“Female.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/female. Accessed 24 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

female

1 of 2 noun
fe·​male ˈfē-ˌmāl How to pronounce female (audio)
: a female plant or animal

female

2 of 2 adjective
1
a
: of, relating to, or being the sex that bears young or produces eggs
b
: having only seed-producing flowers
a female holly
2
a
: of, relating to, or characteristic of the female sex
b
: made up of females
femaleness noun
Etymology

Noun

Middle English female "a girl or woman," an altered form of femel, femelle (same meaning), from early French femelle and Latin femella, both meaning "a girl or woman," from earlier Latin femella "a young woman, girl," from femina "woman" — related to feminine

Word Origin
In the 14th century, female appeared in English with such spellings as femel, femelle, and female. The word comes from the Latin femella, meaning "young woman, girl," which in turn is based on femina, meaning "woman." In English, the similarity in form and sound between the words female and male led people to use only the female spelling. This closeness also led to the belief that female comes from or is somehow related to male. However, apart from the influence of male on the modern spelling of female, there is no link between the origins of the two words.

Medical Definition

female

1 of 2 noun
fe·​male ˈfē-ˌmāl How to pronounce female (audio)
: an individual that bears young or produces eggs as distinguished from one that produces sperm
especially : a woman or girl as distinguished from a man or boy

female

2 of 2 adjective
: of, relating to, or being the sex that bears young or produces eggs

More from Merriam-Webster on female

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