Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of or denoting the sex that produces ova or bears young.
  • adj. Characteristic of or appropriate to this sex; feminine.
  • adj. Consisting of members of this sex. See Usage Note at lady.
  • adj. Botany Designating an organ, such as a pistil or ovary, that functions in producing seeds after fertilization.
  • adj. Botany Bearing pistils but not stamens; pistillate: female flowers.
  • adj. Having a recessed part, such as a slot or receptacle, designed to receive a complementary male part: the female section of an electrical outlet.
  • n. A member of the sex that produces ova or bears young.
  • n. A woman or girl.
  • n. Botany A plant having only pistillate flowers.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Belonging or referring to the sex which is generally characterized as the one associated with the larger gametes (for species which have two sexes and for which this distinction can be made), which in humans and many other species is the sex which produces eggs and which has XX chromosomes.
  • adj. Having an internal socket, as in a connector or pipe fitting.
  • n. Someone or something of feminine sex or gender.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Belonging to the sex which conceives and gives birth to young, or (in a wider sense) which produces ova; not male.
  • adj. Belonging to an individual of the female sex; characteristic of woman; feminine.
  • adj. Having pistils and no stamens; pistillate; or, in cryptogamous plants, capable of receiving fertilization.
  • n. An individual of the sex which conceives and brings forth young, or (in a wider sense) which has an ovary and produces ova.
  • n. A plant which produces only that kind of reproductive organs which are capable of developing into fruit after impregnation or fertilization; a pistillate plant.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A woman; a human being of the sex which conceives and brings forth young.
  • n. By extension
  • n. Any animal of the sex which conceives and brings forth young.
  • n. In botany, a plant which produces fruit; that plant which bears the pistil and receives the pollen or fertilizing element of the male plant, or the analogous organ in cryptogams.
  • Pertaining to or concerned with woman or women; belonging to or concerning the human sex which brings forth young.
  • By extension
  • Pertaining to the sex, of any animal, which brings forth young.
  • In botany, pertaining to the kind of plants which produces fruit; pistil-bearing; pistillate; producing pistillate flowers, or, in the case of cryptogams, producing the organ analogous to the pistil, the organ which receives the fertilizing element of the male plant and produces the sexual spores.
  • Pertaining to or noting some inanimate object associated or contrasted with another as its complement or opposite.
  • Characteristic of a woman; feminine; hence, weak, womanly, tender, etc.
  • Synonyms and . Effeminate, Womanish, etc. See feminine.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. being the sex (of plant or animal) that produces fertilizable gametes (ova) from which offspring develop
  • n. a person who belongs to the sex that can have babies
  • n. an animal that produces gametes (ova) that can be fertilized by male gametes (spermatozoa)
  • adj. for or pertaining to or composed of women or girls
  • adj. characteristic of or peculiar to a woman

Etymologies

Middle English, alteration (influenced by male, male) of femelle, from Old French, from Latin fēmella, diminutive of fēmina, woman.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French femele, from Medieval Latin femella ("a female"), from Latin femella ("a young female, a girl"), diminutive of femina ("a woman"). The English spelling was remodelled under the influence of male, which is not etymologically related. Compare man and woman. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The privileges of a college were to be obtained, with the power of conferring the same degrees upon female students, as upon males -- forgetting, in their ardor, that the constitution of _female_

    Ups and Downs in the Life of a Distressed Gentleman

  • IN behalf of true delicacy and womanliness, we would make an earnest protest against that quiet essence of national vulgarisms, the almost universal use of the term female as applied to woman.

    The Woman's Advocate, Vol. I, No V.

  • In 1951 she sang the title female role in first complete recording of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.

    BBC News - Home

  • Being a pro-choice feminist and a mother, I think that pressuring a woman to have an abortion because she would give birth to a female is a terrible violation of her personhood.

    Worth Your Time « Planning the Day

  • "It was at these meetings my daughter was informed that her career should be that of a wife and mother -- the Biblical terms they use: the female is the sheep and the male is the shepherd."

    Chris Rodda: Civil Rights and Religious Groups Demand That Air Force Academy 'Climate Survey' Be Made Public

  • The chest-beating insistence that dressing as a female is an awful fate seems so imperative that it resurfaces in the one time Tim Drake, the current Robin, has dressed as a young woman.

    Robin—She’s No Lady!

  • I'm looking forward to the day when a female is an assumed presence in a deer camp or duck blind, rather than a headlines-worthy exception to the norm.

    Hunters Who Happen to Be Women

  • There always seems to be an implied attitude that men would not perform such an action unless there was some provocation; that the female is always the one at fault.

    Social Relativity « Hyperpat’s HyperDay

  • If a female is attacked or harassed, her friends will come bounding to the rescue; they will also protect her children, play with them, groom them, carry them, and sometimes share food with them.

    Survival of the Kindest

  • If the female is at fault, get her locked up! on October 27, 2007 at 2: 22 pm | Reply PC Bloggs

    Smoke And Mirrors. « POLICE INSPECTOR BLOG

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