Definitions

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

  • adj. Slang Exhibiting stereotypical or exaggerated feminine traits. Used especially of lesbians and gay men.
  • n. Slang One who is femme.
  • n. Informal A woman or girl.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A woman, a wife, particularly in heraldry.
  • n. A feminine lesbian, and especially one who is attracted to masculine (or butch) lesbians.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A woman. See feme, n.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. See feme.

Etymologies

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

French, from Old French, from Latin fēmina; see feminine.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Used in Middle English, from Old French fame et al. The modern spelling is under the influence of Middle and Modern French femme.

Examples

Comments

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  • I probably hear this the most often as part of femme fatale.

    May 2, 2009

  • Yes, I agree--the two terms have vastly differing connotations, at least in this area of the United States. From what I understand, the terms "butch" and "femme" are still fairly widely used but their connotations have shifted over time as well.

    May 2, 2009

  • Or perhaps some lesbian Wordie-er. I believe this is a fairly old term among lesbians for a homosexual woman who is attracted to "butch" women (i.e. women who to some degree adopt or possess traditionally masculine gender attributes in manner and dress) but who herself acts and dresses in ways that are considered traditionally feminine. A related term, originating in the late 1980s or early 1990s, is "lipstick lesbian" but I think this has different, and more political, connotations.

    April 26, 2009

  • Woman in french, but I hope some french Wordie(r) will help us with nuances...

    April 26, 2009