fe·​male | \ ˈfē-ˌmāl How to pronounce female (audio) \

Definition of female

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a(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



Definition of female (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : 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

Other Words from female


femaleness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for female

Synonyms: Adjective

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Adjective

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The movie’s poor showing comes as a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the highly infectious omicron variant further spooks older female moviegoers, the target demo for The 355. Pamela Mcclintock, The Hollywood Reporter, 9 Jan. 2022 Respondents identifying as female are more likely to consider climate change, health care, race relations and income and wealth distribution as extremely big national problems than males. Susan Webb Yackee, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9 Jan. 2022 The female victim arrived at University Hospital by personal vehicle. Shauna Stuart | Sstuart@al.com, al, 9 Jan. 2022 The Sedan also hit a third vehicle stopped on Jones Avenue, leaving its 59-year-old female driver from Tavares with minor injuries, the report said. Nelly Ontiveros, orlandosentinel.com, 9 Jan. 2022 The female judges have found support and inspiration in one another. Julie Luchetta, AZCentral.com, 9 Jan. 2022 The all-female club, which charges $49 a week for classes ranging from barre to boxing, lost more than half of its membership during the pandemic. Robert Channick, chicagotribune.com, 8 Jan. 2022 The museum’s current male-to-female ratio is 75 to 25, says director Heidi Zuckerman. Los Angeles Times, 8 Jan. 2022 To be world class in this formulation, a male marathoner would need to run 2:04:33, and a female marathoner 2:20:01. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, 8 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Police arrested an adult female for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Bruce Geiselman, cleveland, 8 Jan. 2022 All three stories might be called mother-searches, in which a male protagonist vainly pursues a sheltering female. Brad Leithauser, WSJ, 7 Jan. 2022 The title is a code-name nod to a real-life female operative who conveyed key information about British troop movements to American generals serving under George Washington in the Revolutionary War. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 6 Jan. 2022 Central Alabama Stoppers Saturday night released images of two people – a male and a female - wanted for questioning in connection with the investigation into Sankey’s slaying. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, 3 Jan. 2022 Amy’s historic winning streak will no doubt continue to pave the way for future female and transgender contestants. Katherine Tinsley, Good Housekeeping, 29 Dec. 2021 Upon arrival, officers found a female who was bleeding and suffering from various injuries. Joe Sutton, CNN, 27 Dec. 2021 The victim profiles were also becoming more varied, no longer just white, middle-class and female. New York Times, 27 Dec. 2021 This radiating expression of vivid color became the first painting by an African American female to enter the White House collection when it was acquired in 2015. Chadd Scott, Forbes, 26 Dec. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'female.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of female


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


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

History and Etymology for female


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

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Time Traveler for female

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

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Dictionary Entries Near female



female dragon

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Statistics for female

Last Updated

11 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Female.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/female. Accessed 17 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for female



English Language Learners Definition of female

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: of or relating to the sex that can produce young or lay eggs
: characteristic of girls or women
: having members who are all girls or women



English Language Learners Definition of female (Entry 2 of 2)

: a woman or a girl : a female person
: an animal that can produce young or lay eggs : a female animal
: a plant that can produce seed or fruit : a female plant


fe·​male | \ ˈfē-ˌmāl How to pronounce female (audio) \

Kids Definition of female

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or being the sex that bears young or lays eggs
2 : having a pistil but no stamens a female plant
3 : of or characteristic of women or girls



Kids Definition of female (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a woman or a girl
2 : a person or animal that can bear young or lay eggs
3 : a plant with a pistil but no stamens


fe·​male | \ ˈfē-ˌmāl How to pronounce female (audio) \

Medical Definition of female

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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



Medical Definition of female (Entry 2 of 2)

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

More from Merriam-Webster on female

Nglish: Translation of female for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of female for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about female


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