from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Of or denoting the sex that produces ova or bears young.
  • adjective Characteristic of or appropriate to this sex in humans and other animals.
  • adjective Consisting of members of this sex.
  • adjective Of or denoting the gamete that is larger and less motile than the other corresponding gamete. Used of anisogamous organisms.
  • adjective Designating an organ, such as a pistil or ovary, that functions in producing seeds after fertilization.
  • adjective Bearing pistils but not stamens; pistillate.
  • adjective Designed to receive or fit around a complementary male part, as a slot or receptacle.
  • noun A female organism.
  • noun A woman or girl.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A woman; a human being of the sex which conceives and brings forth young.
  • noun By extension
  • noun Any animal of the sex which conceives and brings forth young.
  • noun 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 the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun An individual of the sex which conceives and brings forth young, or (in a wider sense) which has an ovary and produces ova.
  • noun (Bot.) A plant which produces only that kind of reproductive organs which are capable of developing into fruit after impregnation or fertilization; a pistillate plant.
  • adjective Belonging to the sex which conceives and gives birth to young, or (in a wider sense) which produces ova; not male.
  • adjective Belonging to an individual of the female sex; characteristic of woman; feminine.
  • adjective (Bot.) Having pistils and no stamens; pistillate; or, in cryptogamous plants, capable of receiving fertilization.
  • adjective (Pros.) double rhymes, or rhymes (called in French feminine rhymes because they end in e weak, or feminine) in which two syllables, an accented and an unaccented one, correspond at the end of each line.
  • adjective the spiral-threaded cavity into which another, or male, screw turns.
  • adjective (Bot.) a common species of fern with large decompound fronds (Asplenium Filixfæmina), growing in many countries; lady fern.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective 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.
  • adjective figuratively, electronics Having an internal socket, as in a connector or pipe fitting.
  • noun Someone or something of feminine sex or gender.

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

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


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

[Middle English, alteration (influenced by male, male) of femelle, from Old French, from Latin fēmella, diminutive of fēmina, woman; see dhē(i)- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.


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