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) : having or producing only pistils or pistillate flowers a female holly female inflorescences
b : made up of usually adult members of the female sex : consisting of females the female workforce
c : characteristic of girls, women, or the female sex : exhibiting femaleness composed for female voices a female name
d : designed for or typically used by girls or women a female glove
e : engaged in or exercised by girls or women female suffrage
2 : having some quality (such as small size or delicacy of sound) associated with the female sex female castanets
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

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Other Words from female


femaleness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for female

Synonyms: Adjective

feminine, womanish, womanlike, womanly

Synonyms: Noun

lady, skirt [slang], woman

Antonyms: Adjective

unfeminine, unwomanly

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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


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


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

In comics terms, the death of a female character used to simply to motivate men is called fridging. Time, "Review: Late Night Is a Pitch-Perfect Workplace Comedy," 7 June 2019 That sort of dynamic really hasn’t existed on screen before, certainly with a female character. Derek Lawrence, EW.com, "Alice and Luther are back together in exclusive Luther clip," 6 June 2019 Quesenberry, described in court records as the only female FAIM member, was Yandell’s point person for heroin trafficking, authorities said. Nate Gartrell, The Mercury News, "Feds announce massive California bust of notorious Aryan Brotherhood prison gang," 6 June 2019 Its male members favor suits and short hair, and female members wear veils that cover their hair and modest dresses. Washington Post, "Mexican church leader still its ‘apostle’ after rape arrest," 6 June 2019 Karl plays as a female character named Roxette; Danny plays as Ryu-like Lance. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Black Mirror’s “Striking Vipers” is like “San Junipero” without the heart," 5 June 2019 The main female characters are all trying to cope with the fatal climax of Season 1, and their roles in it. oregonlive.com, "‘Big Little Lies’ returns: Meryl Streep and a superb cast make Season 2 deliciously watchable," 5 June 2019 The gripping show — which stars Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini as the two central female characters — was just renewed for a second season. PEOPLE.com, "Netflix's Dead to Me Renewed for Season 2 with Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini," 4 June 2019 But films with a higher percentage of female characters drew more women to theaters. Anousha Sakoui, Fortune, "Young Women Go to the Movies More Than Men," 4 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Police describe her as an African American female, about 5 feet tall and 100 pounds. Holly Yan And Madeline Holcombe, CNN, "Detroit police say they have a suspect who may be linked to serial killings," 10 June 2019 Redefining manliness, expanding parental leave, automation’s job-loss threat to females, and a forecast for a loneliness epidemic ahead. WSJ, "Women In: The Conversation," 7 June 2019 Male hosts like Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert are repeatedly name-dropped — Seth Meyers even makes an appearance — but there’s no mention of existing non-network female hosts who have been doing just that. Anne Cohen, refinery29.com, "In Mindy Kaling’s Late Night, Women Strive For Excellence While Men DGAF," 7 June 2019 Friday’s Doodle features a collage of soccer players, each drawn by a different female artist from the country the players represent. Billy Perrigo, Time, "The 2019 Women's World Cup Has Started and Google Is Celebrating With a Doodle," 7 June 2019 In looking at the world's 10 biggest economies -- including the top two, the U.S. and China -- McKinsey found that 107 million jobs females now hold could be automated by 2030, affecting 20% of working women. Kate Gibson, CBS News, "Automation could throw millions of women out of work," 6 June 2019 And yes, from video cameras posted at kill sites, Alldredge has seen four females die trying to defend their food. Seth Boster, The Denver Post, "An up-close mission to understand mountain lions in Colorado — but is it too close?," 6 June 2019 Surveillance video shows an unknown female take the wallet from the counter and leave with it. cleveland.com, "Family feuds at Elementary School property: South Euclid Police Blotter," 5 June 2019 The beverages, which were ingested daily from Monday to Friday, provided equal volumes of fluid for all groups (660 ml for men and 330 ml for women), with males ingesting 330 ml with lunch and dinner, while females ingested 330 ml with dinner only. Mackie Shilstone, nola.com, "Are beer & exercising compatible?," 5 June 2019

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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Statistics for female

Last Updated

12 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for female

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

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on female

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with female

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for female

Spanish Central: Translation of female

Nglish: Translation of female for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of female for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about female

Comments on female

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behavior toward others

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