One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1third person singular Used to refer to a woman, girl, or female animal previously mentioned or easily identified.‘my sister told me that she was not happy’
- ‘The girl cried until she was red in the face and trembling, as her mother rocked her.’
- ‘When my sister was a little girl she asked my mother the name of a certain old lady.’
- ‘I'd love to contact this girl because she was really sweet and I hope this letter will find her.’
- ‘If you give Danielle another chance, I think she would change and be the girl she once used to be.’
- ‘Four years ago she won two medals in Malaysia, but only in a warm-up competition.’
- ‘So, losing no time, the organisers wrote to Michele and told her that she had won.’
- ‘She mentioned she had a friend who loved girl groups, but who was too ill to travel to the parties in London.’
- ‘A crowd gathers and someone asks the girl what she has said to enrage her brother so.’
- ‘A teenager has been left deeply shocked after being attacked by a gang of up to ten girls as she walked home.’
- ‘Wie said she was trying to make a run for the money in the last round, and she wanted to win this year.’
- ‘One woman pilot who was previously rejected because she was too small has already joined the force.’
- ‘A teenager has died after she was involved in a disturbance with a gang of youths in the Falkirk area.’
- ‘He is a lonely old man who saw a young girl and told her she was beautiful.’
- ‘Last year Lauren had to pull out because she had an accident on her bicycle shortly before the event.’
- ‘The Queen was recently said to have told a visitor she expected Paris to win.’
- ‘He had seen his future wife Nancy when she was only 13 and decided at once that she was the only girl for him.’
- ‘He says his wife likes it because she can easily transport their grandchildren.’
- ‘It seems the perils of plucky Paula are to continue, whether she wins or loses.’
- ‘Another girl decided she had to re-do her hair every time it fell out of place.’
- ‘If someone thinks a vehicle has been taken unjustly, he or she has to apply to the police.’
- 1.1 Used to refer to a ship, vehicle, country, or other inanimate thing regarded as female.‘I was aboard the St Roch shortly before she sailed for the Northwest Passage’
- ‘A small ship with a big name and a big heart, she was obviously a source of immense pride for her new owner.’
- ‘Work is expected to begin shortly, and she may be ready to be sunk by next April.’
- ‘The ship is now in the Falklands where she has taken over from HMS Dumbarton Castle.’
- ‘The ship was sailing from New York to Liverpool when she was struck off the coast of Ireland.’
- ‘The crew had raced out and were able to get them off the ship before she sank.’
- ‘This was the Danish ship Flora, and she steamed straight for the anchored Gwladmena.’
- ‘From the equator she will sail past the Cape of Good Hope and then to Cape Leeuwin in Australia.’
- ‘The ship is returning to the Gulf, where she has been a regular visitor in recent years.’
- ‘He also moved to dispel what he said was the myth that Queen Mary never sailed in convoy because she was too quick.’
- ‘It is a fine sight in the summer wind as she sails away and becomes a dot on the horizon.’
- ‘When the ship was lost, relatives were wrongly informed that she had hit a mine.’
- 1.2 Used to refer to a person or animal of unspecified sex.‘only include your child if you know she won't distract you’
- 1.3 Any female person.‘she who rocks the cradle rules the world’
- 1.4West Indian Her or hers.‘give she lavender oil’
- 1.5NZ, Australian It (used to refer to something not usually regarded as female)‘reckon some decent weather and she'll be right’
1A female; a woman.‘is that a he or a she?’
- ‘I hope I haven't mixed up her sex, I think she's a she…’
- 1.1in combination Female.‘a she-bear’‘a she-wolf’feminine, womanly, womanlike, ladylikeView synonyms
The use of the pronoun he to refer to a person of unspecified sex, once quite acceptable, has become problematic in recent years and is now usually regarded as old-fashioned or sexist. One of the responses to this has been to use she in the way that he has been used, as in only include your child if you know she won't distract you. In some types of writing, for example books on childcare or child psychology, this use of she has become quite common. In most contexts, however, it is likely to be distracting in the same way that he now is, and alternatives such as ‘he or she’ or ‘they’ are preferable
who's she—the cat's mother?
1informal Used as a mild reproof, especially to a child, for impolite use of the pronoun she rather than a person's name.
2informal Expressing the belief that a woman or girl has a high opinion of herself or is putting on airs.
Middle English: probably a phonetic development of the Old English feminine personal pronoun hēo, hīe.
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