Definition of female in English:

female

adjective

  • 1Of or denoting the sex that can bear offspring or produce eggs, distinguished biologically by the production of gametes (ova) which can be fertilized by male gametes.

    ‘a herd of female deer’
    • ‘His laughter trailed behind her as he went to a fitting with another female worker, but she was not very attractive.’
    • ‘Traditionally, male babies were valued much more highly than female offspring.’
    • ‘Whether he slept with any of his female correspondents we do not know.’
    • ‘When breeding in the summer the male fertilizes the adult female starfish which then discharges up to twenty million eggs into the sea.’
    • ‘There have been cases of female animals ‘adopting’ motherless young ones of other species.’
    • ‘She's Canadian and was one of the first female foreign correspondents on Canadian television.’
    • ‘An unusual hybrid has been reported by veterinarians in Botswana - the offspring of a female goat and a male sheep.’
    • ‘Incidentally, practically all lamb and pork comes from female animals but, with beef, a good steer is as good as a good cow.’
    • ‘The embryos were then inserted into female mice that gave birth to mice with this genetic defect.’
    • ‘A female correspondent to this magazine once claimed that it was not.’
    • ‘Critics were divided neatly by age and sex, with almost all the female film correspondents and virtually everyone under the age of 35 loving the film.’
    • ‘I wanted to be the first ever female cricket correspondent of the Times.’
    • ‘Manufacturing wages for female workers range as low as 12 cents to 30 cents per hour.’
    • ‘It was also considered a suitable name for a female crocodile.’
    • ‘There is no one-size-fits-all explanation for female infidelity among animals.’
    • ‘Infested berries will have a discoloured area where the egg was inserted by the female fly.’
    • ‘The weight for both male and female polar bears has declined, and female bears are having fewer cubs.’
    • ‘She was the first female apprentice toolmaker employed by the company.’
    • ‘Like other mammals, female mice manufacture prenatally all the eggs they will ever have.’
    • ‘Put simply, inserting a senior female police officer into an investigation was shown to spoil neither investigation nor genre.’
    1. 1.1 Relating to or characteristic of women or female animals.
      ‘a female audience’
      ‘female names’
      • ‘Both are female-orientated, with strong female casts and a predominantly female audience.’
      • ‘A practical move that gave us a pretty female name with a romantic touch to balance the tough masculine environment.’
      • ‘If it's not that, I think it must be a biological improvement in female fertility.’
      • ‘What I didn't expect to see was how amused the predominantly white female studio audience was with these clowns.’
      • ‘Thus, it seems logical for a correlation to exist between male and female fertility traits.’
      • ‘We are not inducing female sex characteristics at that age.’
      • ‘I suppose my main gripe is the gender politics of this show, which I'm assuming is targeting a mainly female audience.’
      • ‘The baby boomer audience, mainly female, hung on his every note, nuance and gesture.’
      • ‘Interestingly, she was named after her father who wanted his daughter to have a female version of his name.’
      • ‘So, they're really marketing to a lot more of the female audience now.’
      • ‘I nearly dozed, although I did notice a surprising amount of female laughter in the audience.’
      • ‘Dashed and nondashed lines represent male and female life cycles, respectively.’
      • ‘Most reproductions of the work are from a later alteration that obscured her obvious female characteristics.’
      • ‘I'm willing to bet that Dido's audience is almost exclusively female, to an unusual degree in pop artists.’
      • ‘What's the dumbest female name you can think of?’
      • ‘He's begun hormone treatment, has adopted a female name, and hopes to undergo surgery within the next two years.’
      • ‘I don't know whether there was a corresponding list of stereotypical female faults.’
      • ‘Women have two ovaries in their wombs and are the major source of female hormones, manufacturing oestrogen and progesterone.’
      • ‘Beauty isn't, of course, characteristic only of the female form.’
      • ‘And we have to say that the fashions on-show on the catwalk and in the mainly female audience were mouth watering.’
      feminine, womanly, womanlike, ladylike
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 (of a plant or flower) having a pistil but no stamens.
      • ‘This monoecious species has male flowers occurring in catkins and female flowers occurring in clusters.’
      • ‘While in the bloom, they mate, feed, and brush pollen onto female flowers.’
      • ‘However, the size distribution of male and female trees broadly overlapped.’
      • ‘Unpollinated ovaries were prepared by bagging the female flowers before anthesis.’
      • ‘Under field conditions small plants are often male, with production of both male and female flowers increasing with plant size.’
      • ‘One male date palm can produce enough pollen for 49 female trees.’
      • ‘If the goal is to just reduce the overall number of trees and stop further spreading, cut female trees only.’
      • ‘The male flowers are on the tassels at the top of the plant; the female flowers form the silk that hangs out of the developing ears.’
      • ‘It is grown to produce the narcotic drugs hashish and marijuana, made primarily from its female flowers.’
      • ‘The female flower sits closer to the vine and has a swollen embryonic fruit at its base.’
      • ‘Male flowers are pale yellow, whereas female flowers are white; inflorescences of both sexes are similar in size.’
      • ‘There are male and female flowers on different plants.’
      • ‘Planting female trees in one's own yard will attract and then trap incoming airborne pollen from males of their own species.’
      • ‘That's because the female flower is a small terminal spike on the end of the current season's growth.’
      • ‘If the flower is female and comes with a small courgette attached, deep fry it.’
      • ‘Male flowers are at the top of the spike and female flowers at the base.’
      • ‘Male and hermaphroditic flowers are slightly larger and a brighter yellow than female flowers.’
      • ‘The female flowers mature in late summer and are used to add bitterness, favor, and aroma to beer.’
      • ‘The female tree is the best for the home garden, as they are the best fruit bearer.’
      • ‘Nearby, male nutmeg trees are planted next to the blooming female trees with the red laced nutmeg peeking out of their ripe yellow pods.’
    3. 1.3 (of parts of machinery, fittings, etc.) manufactured hollow so that a corresponding male part can be inserted.
      • ‘A basket holds the coil of roofing nails and adjusts for different nails If you incorrectly install a female fitting on a nailer or stapler.’
      • ‘The tubing seat in the female fitting has a 42-degree taper.’

noun

  • A female person, animal, or plant.

    • ‘There is also some sage advice for females wanting to break into what is still essentially a male domain.’
    • ‘When the females arrive they rest up in deeper water until conditions are perfect for spawning.’
    • ‘The sharks stay as late as December some years, before the females head north into Mozambique.’
    • ‘Biological differentiation into male and female makes sexual reproduction possible.’
    • ‘Figures show that women in Glasgow will die earlier than females anywhere else in Britain.’
    • ‘The females enter the spawning bays a few days later and spawning normally occurs around dawn and dusk.’
    • ‘This is more frequent in teenage boys than girls but is increasing among young females in my experience.’
    • ‘The cubs are cared for by all the females in the pride, and will suckle from other females as well as from their mother.’
    • ‘This may give females a particularly large benefit from reallocating paternal expenses.’
    • ‘For moss sperm, attempts at fertilizing the female of the species may be doomed before they even begin.’
    • ‘Everyone young and old, male and female bore this mark in the same place.’
    • ‘The females manoeuvre for position in the middle of the shoal - with the biggest in the centre.’
    • ‘It also occurs in females, particularly when they need to defend their young.’
    • ‘The life cycle begins as the adult female lays its eggs while burrowing into the skin.’
    • ‘The chromosome from the father determines whether the offspring becomes male or female.’
    • ‘This can be easily done in very thin females but is more difficult in heavier women.’
    • ‘This system of marking the females is still used at all levels of society.’
    • ‘It is the females that inflict the bite to extract the blood they need to assist the production of their eggs.’
    • ‘Most of my key operational females have no childcare responsibilities at all.’
    • ‘However, the sexual objectification of females is not confined to pornography.’

Phrases

  • the female of the species

    • humorous Women or a woman.

      ‘it was one of those subtle hints that the female of the species sometimes use’
      • ‘You recognize a mating ritual of a man trying to assert his own among the female of the species.’
      • ‘The female of the species is fast losing its claim to being the fairer sex.’
      • ‘Acknowledge that needlework is no longer the preserve of the female of the species.’
      • ‘You can distinguish the female of the species by her exposed cleavage and teetering walk.’
      • ‘The female of the species are supposed to be tough nuts.’
      • ‘The female of the species did even better then, with their portfolios actually growing by 2 %.’
      • ‘I do not want to lose my right to be a democrat, I do not want to see the female of the species declassified.’
      • ‘There have been reports of dozens of roses, love letters and chocolates wooing the female of the species.’
      • ‘The striking thing is how most discussions on looks - or lack of them - centre on the female of the species.’
      • ‘The men come with a use-by date and duly depart leaving the stage - and the beach - to the female of the species.’

Origin

Middle English: from Old French femelle, from Latin femella, diminutive of femina ‘a woman’. The change in the ending was due to association with male, but the words male and female are not linked etymologically.

Pronunciation

female

/ˈfiːmeɪl/