female

adjective
fe·male | \ˈfē-ˌmāl \

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

female

noun

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

Adjective

femaleness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for female

Synonyms: Adjective

feminine, womanish, womanlike, womanly

Synonyms: Noun

lady, 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

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

But Everlane—which targets a young, female, mostly millennial audience like Aritzia—already has a substantial cult following through its social channels and pop-up stores around the country. Rachel King, Fortune, "Meghan Markle Is Being Credited With Boosting Aritzia's Earnings. But Is the 'Meghan Effect' Real?," 13 July 2018 Another woman would make the high court 44 percent female, close to the 51 percent of women in the U.S. population. Stu Bykofsky, Philly.com, "Why Trump should have picked Philly Judge Genece Brinkley for U.S. Supreme Court | Stu Bykofsky," 12 July 2018 Shortly after that, a complaint was filed and, in early April, the male student was issued a no-contact order, barring him from being anywhere around the female, including in the same dining hall. David Jesse, Detroit Free Press, "Federal judge: U-M must give student accused of sex assault live hearing," 6 July 2018 Sometimes Duplex come across as male; sometimes female. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Talking to Google Duplex: Google’s human-like phone AI feels revolutionary," 27 June 2018 Daniels smacked that female officer’s face with her breasts, according to the affidavit. Marilyn Icsman, Cincinnati.com, "Stormy Daniels: Her crazy 48 hours in Ohio," 13 July 2018 Off the pitch, female reporters have been victims of sexism. Stephen Sorace, Fox News, "FIFA wants fewer TV shots of 'hot' female fans in bid to tackle sexism in soccer," 13 July 2018 Grace and Frankie is a female revenge fantasy, in which friendship and dildos are the methods of choice. Emily Dreyfuss, WIRED, "9 Emmy-Nominated Shows You Can Binge to Escape Reality," 13 July 2018 In 1969, Senator Ted Kennedy left a party with a female companion. Guy Hanford, Ramona Sentinel, "Flickers," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The book tells the story of the alpha female, O-Six, who became a favorite of wolf watchers and conservationists. The Editors, Outside Online, "Beyond Books Club: The 'American Wolf' Author Podcast," 9 July 2018 Three kits, just 11 weeks old, live in a den with two females and one male in their exhibit in the African Outpost area of the Safari Park. Bradley J. Fikes, sandiegouniontribune.com, "For the Fourth, bring out the (San Diego Zoo) babies!," 3 July 2018 Prevalence was higher among adult females, and those aged 18-25. refinery29.com, "Is It Illegal For A Company To Fire You For Being Depressed?," 28 June 2018 The monkeys tend to live in small groups of four to 10 with a dominant male, adult females, and offspring. Laney Ruckstuhl, BostonGlobe.com, "At Franklin Park Zoo, visitors can now see a baby monkey," 20 June 2018 Jackson rarely let the elderly female out of the house, but gave the cat the chance to wander every once in a while. Kale Williams, OregonLive.com, "Cat found decapitated in Washington County, cops search for suspect," 27 May 2018 On average, an adult male weighs 140 pounds, with females about 25 percent smaller. Christine Willmsen, The Seattle Times, "Two attacked by cougar identified; wildlife officials say predator was ‘emaciated’," 22 May 2018 Cassius was a male western lowlands gorilla, who was designated to breed with the zoo's two females. Lainey Seyler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Cassius, a 31-year-old gorilla at the Milwaukee County Zoo, died Thursday night," 13 Apr. 2018 Witnesses told police victim was involved in an argument with a female and another black male came up and shot the victim. Carol Robinson, AL.com, "2 wounded in overnight shootings at separate Tuscaloosa apartment complexes," 11 Apr. 2018

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

Adjective

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

Noun

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

History and Etymology for female

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

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Statistics for female

Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for female

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

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More Definitions for female

female

adjective

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

female

noun

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

female

adjective
fe·male | \ˈfē-ˌmāl \

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

female

noun

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

female

noun
fe·male | \ˈfē-ˌmāl \

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

female

adjective

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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Comments on female

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