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

Sudan’s military and civilian leaders reach a power-sharing deal; Amsterdam’s first female mayor wants to reform the city’s red light district. Catherine Kim, Vox, "Vox Sentences: Turning off the red lights," 6 July 2019 Between 2013 and 2017 the number of professional and semi-professional female players in Europe nearly doubled, to 3,600. The Economist, "The Women's World Cup is drawing record audiences," 5 July 2019 As such, its diagnosis relies on the recognition of female pain. Kalpana Mohanty, Teen Vogue, "Being Diagnosed With a Chronic Illness Taught Me That Health Isn't a Meritocracy," 5 July 2019 The Democratic Women's Caucus penned an open letter to U.S. Soccer Federation President Carlos Cordeiro on Wednesday, and firmly took sides on the lawsuit that female players have filed over the pay gap. NBC News, "House Democratic Women's Caucus pushes for soccer to close 'indefensible' wage gap for female players," 3 July 2019 Pauline Betz had been the best female tennis player of the 1940s by far, winning four U.S. Nationals titles in five years. oregonlive.com, "‘Gorgeous Gussie’ Moran shocked Wimbledon 70 years ago, the first of many shocks that upended her life," 28 June 2019 Lawson now joins San Antonio's Becky Hammon, Dallas' Jenny Boucek and Cleveland's Lindsay Gottlieb in a growing group of female coaches in NBA this season. Alaa Abdeldaiem, SI.com, "Report: Celtics to Hire Ex-WNBA Champion Kara Lawson as Assistant Coach," 27 June 2019 For example, in 2014, the San Antonio Spurs hired Becky Hammon as the first female full-time assistant coach. Lila Bromberg, USA TODAY, "Celtics hire Kara Lawson, 2008 Olympic gold medalist and former Tennessee and WNBA star, per report," 27 June 2019 Now, these women are helping to launch a landmark study of former female soccer players. CBS News, "Brandi Chastain, Michelle Akers launch landmark CTE study for women's soccer: "We can't ignore this anymore"," 27 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

However, a growing trade in elephant skin, used for jewelry, threatens both males and females alike. National Geographic, "Asian Elephant," 7 July 2019 The population of El Corralón, which was designed to hold 1,200 adult males and females, would be expanded. Earl Shorris, Harper's magazine, "El Corralón," 24 June 2019 The 2-year-old female, grey tabby domestic shorthair cat. Joy Sewing, Houston Chronicle, "Meet Joy, Frank and 500 animals ready for adopting at Best Friends Super Adoption this weekend," 18 June 2019 The two males and female helped the victim and her children into their cars. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland.com, "Woman shot while shielding children from attack by ex-boyfriend, Akron police say," 16 June 2019 The juvenile male and juvenile female also told police that the group had decided to kill Hoffman, the charges said. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, "Three more teens charged in Thunderbird Falls killing," 10 June 2019 An order of protection was requested by a 28-year-old female in January against Wilkes, according to court documents obtained by AL.com. Sam Blum | Sblum@al.com, NOLA.com, "Police search for suspect who killed Alabama policeman, injured 2 others," 20 May 2019 The Florida Athletic Coaches Association made history this summer by naming a female as its president for the first time since the organization was founded in 1936. Buddy Collings, orlandosentinel.com, "Florida coaches association names first female president, baseball all-stars, bowling nationals news," 17 Apr. 2019 Showcase won the Level 5 open female and open male divisions with its Purple Lightning and Purple Vipers teams. Jack Marrion, Houston Chronicle, "Showcase, local gymnasts shine at Gymnastics For All National Championships," 24 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

10 Jul 2019

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



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

What made you want to look up female? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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