female

adjective
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

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

From gender equality and universal education opportunities to social entrepreneurship and female empowerment, the visit’s three-day itinerary shone a spotlight on the issues most important to the duchess. Omid Scobie, Harper's BAZAAR, "How Duchess Meghan Won Morocco’s Heart Just Weeks Before Her Due Date," 26 Feb. 2019 Amy Roko has become a voice of Saudi female empowerment on social media, with 1.3 million Instagram followers. Don Steinberg, WSJ, "The Rules of Comedy in Iraq," 13 Feb. 2019 Part of that is due to the reality of living with an accomplished designer: Molster’s eponymous firm, run by an all-female staff, specializes in residential projects in the Southeast. Kaitlin Menza, House Beautiful, "Janie Molster Strongly Believes There is No Such a Thing as Too Much Pink," 6 Feb. 2019 Christina Animashaun/Vox Even before her book Lean In was published in 2013, Sheryl Sandberg had become synonymous with a particular brand of female empowerment. Anna North, Vox, "How Facebook’s scandals are hurting Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In brand," 17 Dec. 2018 The song is about female empowerment, so a big inspiration was Georgia O'Keeffe. Andrea Park, Allure, "Artist Alexa Meade Shares the Inspiration Behind the Body Paint in Ariana Grande's "God Is a Woman" Video," 20 July 2018 Harford became a sponsor of an internal group of female employees called Women of Uber, and he was essentially designated to advocate for the group. Mike Isaac, BostonGlobe.com, "At Uber, new questions arise about executive behavior," 14 July 2018 Many female stars have been targets of nude photo leaks, including Jennifer Lawrence and Lindsey Vonn. Anna Millard, refinery29.com, "Hacker Charged For Breaking Into Selena Gomez's Emails," 14 July 2018 Like Bring It On, and unlike most films, especially teen films, this one is female focused. Vogue, "The 55 Best Romantic Comedies of All Time," 1 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For many of the alpha females who visit, the inclusions are key: daily tension-melting in-room massages, facials, PT sessions, three body wraps, a hair treatment, and a mani-pedi. Daisy Finer, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Golden Door Is the World's Most Iconic Spa," 21 Dec. 2018 Spacesuits, seats and all crew equipment were initially designed for a larger range of sizes to fit all body types, and the waste management system was modified for females. Bonnie J. Dunbar, Scientific American, "Sally Ride’s Legacy Lives On," 18 June 2018 Last August, fossils were announced that showed for the first time a genetic hybrid between the two species—a female who lived 90,000 years ago with a Denisovan father and a Neanderthal mother. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "AI Predicts Humans Have an Ancestor We Don't Even Know About Yet," 17 Jan. 2019 What if Hollywood never stops asking its female leads to wriggle into unforgiving latex suits? Vanessa Chow, Glamour, "Amber Heard Is Nobody’s Victim," 27 Nov. 2018 Fire personnel pronounced the victim, initially identified as a female in her mid-forties, dead on scene. Jordan Cutler-tietjen, sacbee, "Woman shot, killed in apparent South Sacramento homicide," 8 July 2018 Shonda Rhimes popularized the concept of colorblind casting that gave us Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) one of the most popular Black female leads in history. refinery29.com, "What Happened To All Of The Black Teen Shows?," 3 July 2018 Another of those black women, Shonda Rhimes, is the showrunner for hits such as Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder, both of which feature strong black female leads. Solomon Jones, Philly.com, "With black women in power, Roseanne's show never stood a chance. Thank God | Solomon Jones," 29 May 2018 And according to a Nielsen 2017 study, black females are among media’s most voracious, savvy, and loyal consumers, and remain dedicated fans to physical magazines, even in a fast-changing media landscape. Marjon Carlos, Glamour, "September's Black Fashion Cover Stars Reveal More Than Just Style," 8 Aug. 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

6 Mar 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

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 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

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 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

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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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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