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, 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

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

For instance, Richmond recalls a couple who came to her because the male partner was struggling with the female partner’s urge to explore her submissive side in a specific way. Sophie Saint Thomas, SELF, "8 Signs a Sex Therapist Might Improve Your Life (and How to Find One)," 26 Oct. 2018 The percentage of female CEO’s of S&P 500 firms has declined over the past year, to less than 5%. Joanne Lipman, WSJ, "Want Equality? Make New Dads Stay Home," 28 Sep. 2018 All female artists who perform with a clip in their hair please raise your hands! Emily Wang, Allure, "Shakira Reveals How She Gets Her Curly Hair Stage-Ready," 24 Aug. 2018 Officials with the Transportation Security Administration have determined that two suspicious items found in a female passenger’s checked bag were actually novelty bottle openers shaped like hand grenades. Michael Bartiromo, Fox News, "TSA finds grenade-shaped novelties in checked luggage at Newark airport," 22 Aug. 2018 The new additions should appeal to youth viewers and should promote female athletes. Madeline Mitchell, Cincinnati.com, "Ultimate Frisbee is likely to fly into the 2024 or 2028 Olympic Games. You can see the world's top players here in Greater Cincinnati," 12 July 2018 Not greatest tennis player, not greatest female athlete. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Of all Serena's triumphs, this Wimbledon run is the most impressive," 12 July 2018 Notre Dame women’s basketball standout Arike Ogunbowale was named the league’s top female athlete. Jonas Shaffer, baltimoresun.com, "After historic year at Louisville, Ravens' Lamar Jackson named ACC's top male athlete," 6 July 2018 For the first time since 2010, the Forbes Top 100 Highest Paid Athletes list had no female athletes – primarily because tennis star Serena Williams is on maternity leave. John Smallwood, Philly.com, "Female athletes keep plugging away in sports that don't offer big money," 5 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Women as a cohesive progressive voting bloc may never be a reality, but progressive white female voters must continue to work in their communities to move more white women to the left. Treva B. Lindsey, Vox, "The betrayal of white women voters: in pivotal state races, they still backed the GOP," 9 Nov. 2018 The sloth, who is unnamed as of now, is the child of an 18-year-old female Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth named Bonnie and a 25-year-old male sloth named Cocoa. Suzannah Weiss, Teen Vogue, "Baby Sloth Born at Zoo Atlanta," 8 Nov. 2018 To All the Boys was praised for featuring an Asian-American female in a lead role, something that is rarely seen, especially in a rom com. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Lara Jean Covey from “To All the Boys I've Loved Before” is Bringing Asian-American Representation to Halloween," 29 Oct. 2018 Maybe like a 13- or 14-year-old female who's presenting with depression or anxiety. Kayleigh Roberts, Allure, "Why Women With ADHD Like Me Get Diagnosed So Late in Adulthood," 25 Oct. 2018 The film will follow Ginsburg throughout her trailblazing career as only the second female Supreme Court Justice in history, and the first Jewish female justice. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Watch Felicity Jones Fight for Gender Equality as RBG in the First Trailer for On the Basis of Sex," 16 July 2018 Ronda Rousey became the first female inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame on Thursday. Charlotte Carroll, SI.com, "Ronda Rousey Becomes First Woman Inducted Into UFC Hall of Fame," 6 July 2018 This spring, just before graduating from Kansas Connections Academy, Coyle, was signed by Missouri Valley College as the newest member, and the first female on the school's competitive eSports team. Mará Rose Williams, kansascity, "For teen, playing video games a lot paid off — to the tune of $60,000 toward college," 16 June 2018 Especially in the art sector, especially in movie-making, a lot of females . . . Rebecca Keegan, HWD, "In Cannes, Saudi Arabia Pitches Itself as a Cinema Player," 18 May 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

13 Nov 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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