Definitions

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

  • adj. Of or relating to women or girls. See Synonyms at female.
  • adj. Characterized by or possessing qualities generally attributed to a woman.
  • adj. Effeminate; womanish.
  • adj. Grammar Designating or belonging to the gender of words or grammatical forms that refer chiefly to females or to things classified as female.
  • n. Grammar The feminine gender.
  • n. Grammar A word or form belonging to the feminine gender.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Of the female sex; biologically female, not male, womanly.
  • adj. Belonging to females; appropriated to, or used by, females.
  • adj. Having the qualities associated with a woman or the female gender; suitable to, or characteristic of, a woman; nurturing; not masculine or aggressive.
  • adj. Grammatical gender distinction in languages that describes nouns including those pertaining to females and objects that are assigned the feminine gender.
  • adv. Of or pertaining to woman.
  • adv. Having the qualities of a woman.
  • n. The female principle
  • n. A woman.
  • n. Any one of those words which are the appellations of females, or which have the terminations usually found in such words; as, actress, songstress, abbess, executrix.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to a woman, or to women; characteristic of a woman; womanish; womanly.
  • adj. Having the qualities of a woman; becoming or appropriate to the female sex; as, in a good sense, modest, graceful, affectionate, confiding; or, in a bad sense, weak, nerveless, timid, pleasure-loving, effeminate.
  • n. A woman.
  • n. Any one of those words which are the appellations of females, or which have the terminations usually found in such words; as, actress, songstress, abbess, executrix.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Pertaining to a woman or to women, or to the (human) female sex; having the distinguishing characters or nature of that sex; having qualities especially characteristic of woman.
  • Effeminate; destitute of manly qualities.
  • In grammar, of the gender or classification under which are included words which apply to females only: said of words or terminations.
  • Synonyms Female, Feminine, Effeminate, Womanish, Womanly, Ladylike; soft, tender, delicate. Female applies to women and their apparel, to the corresponding sex in animals, and by figure to some inanimate things: feminine, to women and their attributes, to the second grammatical gender; effeminate, only to men. Female applies to that which distinctively belongs to woman; feminine, commonly, to the softer, more delicate or graceful qualities of woman, the qualities being always natural and commendable: as, feminine grace; effeminate, to qualities which, though they might be proper and becoming in a woman, are unmanly and weak in a man; womanish, to that which is weak in woman, or weakly like women in men: as, womanish tears; womanly, to that which is nobly becoming in a woman; ladylike, to that which is refined and well-bred in woman.
  • n. A female; the female sex.

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

  • adj. (music or poetry) ending on an unaccented beat or syllable
  • adj. of grammatical gender
  • adj. associated with women and not with men
  • adj. befitting or characteristic of a woman especially a mature woman
  • n. a gender that refers chiefly (but not exclusively) to females or to objects classified as female

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, from Latin fēminīnus, from fēmina, woman; see dhē(i)- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French feminin, from Latin fēminīnus, from fēmina ("woman"), from Proto-Indo-European *dʰeh₁-m̥n-eh₂ (“who sucks”). Related to fetus, feminism, filial, fellatio. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • However, meditating on the word feminine spoke to something in me that had remained untouched.

    Wild Feminine

  • In general culture, references to women often reflect stereotyped versions of femininity with the term feminine.

    Wild Feminine

  • Among ourselves to-day, men refuse to engage in what they term feminine occupations, not because they do not know how to do them, but because they consider such work beneath their masculine dignity.

    The Dominant Sex: A Study in the Sociology of Sex Differentiation, by Mathilde and Mathias Vaerting; translated from the German by Eden and Cedar Paul

  • If you ask anyone what the word feminine means, you might get the response, "womanly, coy, or pretty."

    Forbes.com: News

  • Though I did not connect directly to the word feminine, my list of associations flowed freely: beautiful, open, sensual, receptive, expressive, playful.

    Wild Feminine

  • Levinas for example, still go on imperturbably talking about the way "the feminine is the Other refractory to society" (Levinas, Totality and Infinity 265), and, implicitly, about Jehovah as an old man with a long gray beard.

    Crossroads of Philosophy and Cultural Studies: Body, Context, Performativity, Community

  • Much of what she describes as feminine seemed ludicrously romanticized or frivolous to me: sunbathing, not being able to drive in reverse.

    Freud’s Blind Spot

  • Confining women wholly to their feminine functions, he has required of them only what he called feminine virtues, and the one virtue he has demanded, to the complete overshadowing of all others, is measured by wholly masculine requirements.

    The Man-Made World; or, Our Androcentric Culture

  • "There were," he said, "all the charms and graceful elements which we call feminine, united with a masculine grasp and vigor; sound judgment and great breadth; large common sense and capacity for everyday usefulness, endurance, foresight, strength, and skill."

    Daughters of the Puritans A Group of Brief Biographies

  • Theodora paid a visit to the sick child in the early morning, and after breakfast accompanied Violet to the lodge, where Violet found the poor little thing nursed with more goodwill than skill by its old aunt and Theodora, took it into her own motherly arms, gave it food and medicine, and hushed it to sleep so successfully, that Theodora respected what she called the feminine element.

    Heartsease, Or, the Brother's Wife

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