Definition of feminine in US English:



  • 1Having qualities or an appearance traditionally associated with women, especially delicacy and prettiness.

    ‘a feminine frilled blouse’
    • ‘Her obsession with feminine appearance indicates the degree to which she internalized and responded to the social codes of her day.’
    • ‘This, coupled with their pop music style and stereotypically feminine appearance, allowed them to be angry without being threatening.’
    • ‘The two paintings that Sala feels the strongest affinity for are the most recent and most overtly feminine ones.’
    • ‘In the 1960s, young womanhood was defined as essentially concerned with a feminine appearance and attracting the admiring male gaze.’
    • ‘Its methods should encompass intuition, emotional engagement, and other cognitive styles associated with a feminine sensibility.’
    • ‘It had a feminine girlish quality in the cut, but a bold, womanly quality in color.’
    • ‘There was the glass ceiling, the unequal pay, and while feminine qualities of leadership transformed the work world, they did so often at a cost to personal life.’
    • ‘A subtle feminine touch is given by using soft shades and delicate embroidery.’
    • ‘And without further adieu, Mr. Smith sauntered away in a saucy walk that had a distinct feminine quality to it.’
    • ‘The season's clothes are feminine, pretty and anything but solid black, a dominant colour of many earlier seasons.’
    • ‘Both were excellent fund-raisers among the wealthy, and they kept up feminine appearances by favouring Parisian fashions.’
    • ‘The pink also gives it a more feminine and ladylike quality.’
    • ‘She was a woman of about thirty years of age, dressed poorly, in old garments, but still with decency, and with some attempt at feminine prettiness.’
    • ‘She can compete with men in the work environment, raise her children if she so chooses, and maintain her feminine qualities as she accomplishes all of this.’
    • ‘Amarelle's eyebrows were thick - but they were feminine and pretty!’
    • ‘Granted, it's not the same, but players are more feminine in their appearance nowadays; some shave their legs or manicure their nails.’
    • ‘In fact, some of the feminine qualities celebrated by many Victorians were increasingly cast in a negative light for both boys and girls.’
    • ‘‘She's still very feminine, enjoying shopping and praising traditional female virtues such as gentleness and love’.’
    • ‘The voice was a man, and almost familiar, but it had a quiet, feminine quality to it that Ethan hadn't ever heard in a man's voice before.’
    • ‘Violence remains a potential threat beneath the appearance of feminine softness and the protestations of peace and benevolence.’
    womanly, womanlike, ladylike, girlish, female
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    1. 1.1 Relating to women; female.
      ‘he enjoys feminine company’
      • ‘Even within her marriage, Cleo will not give up her individual power and perform stereotypically passive feminine gender roles.’
      • ‘I don't mind if either ‘society’ or the custodians of Standard English have decided that we should stop using feminine versions of nouns for occupations.’
      • ‘All gender traits, feminine and masculine, must be valued but not assigned.’
      • ‘The trick to wearing androgynous attire with flair is to somehow still look feminine.’
      • ‘Rooms for feminine use look pretty and romantic in lacy textures or soft, out-of-focus florals in misty tones.’
      • ‘To be honest, he looked pretty hot, though a little more feminine than my tastes run to usually.’
      • ‘My voice had returned to its usual feminine tones.’
      • ‘Of course feminine strength, feminine power across gender isn't accorded value in the way that masculine strength and power are valorized.’
      • ‘That ironical note is not only daily apparent in real life; it sets the whole tone of feminine fiction.’
      • ‘They were pretty eyes, almost feminine, he decided, and it was probably that.’
      • ‘The binary and fixed construction of masculine and feminine gender identities is strictly enforced through history, religions, and popular culture.’
      • ‘In too many cases, popular games feature animated female characters scantily clad and with exaggerated feminine attributes.’
      • ‘Far from passively accepting objectification as a second-rate climber because of her sex, she conceived her strong feminine gender identity as an asset.’
      • ‘The feminine side of me wants humanistic evaluations of interesting female people in the news, written by well-bred, well educated women.’
      • ‘The feminine mystique continues to fascinate both men and women.’
      • ‘The main problem with this view is that it is scripted in the presumptuous notion that anyone perceived as pretty, feminine or sexy is playing a specific role, universally understood by all.’
      • ‘It had been accomplished by defining masculine and feminine in new ways.’
      • ‘Conversely, women who do not conform to the caring and nurturing feminine stereotype could encounter gender discrimination in the workplace.’
      • ‘Removing the board gently, he reached down into the hollow and retrieved a bundle of papers covered edge-to-edge in a pretty, feminine hand.’
      • ‘‘Some people might think it's a bit feminine,’ he says doubtfully.’
      womanly, womanlike, ladylike
      View synonyms
  • 2Grammar
    Of or denoting a gender of nouns and adjectives, conventionally regarded as female.

    • ‘In the Arabic language, a feminine pronoun is generally used in such instances.’
    • ‘English is a great language - no masculine and feminine nouns, fewer tenses to our verbs and loads of nouns.’
    • ‘Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into male and female groups and asked them to decide for themselves whether computer should be a masculine or a feminine noun.’
    • ‘Older and more conservative users of the language often claim this is gender-neutral: that it will be understood to include the feminine gender as well as the masculine.’
    • ‘A college class was discussing the fact that nouns in some foreign languages are either of masculine or feminine gender.’
    • ‘Sometimes, even its indeclinable adjectives had their cases: nominative singular masculine wise and accusative feminine plural wise, etc.’
    • ‘Do Spanish adjectives have masculine and feminine forms?’
    • ‘To be sure, it may be the case, in a gender language, that male and female persons will be designated by nouns of masculine and feminine gender, respectively.’
    • ‘This North Queensland language has four genders: masculine, feminine, edible and neuter.’
    • ‘If he's memorizing French vocab, ask him if he knows the difference between masculine and feminine nouns.’
    • ‘In Arabic grammar there are certain rules and criteria for feminine gender.’
    • ‘The word death in Polish is a feminine noun, and is thought of as a tall woman draped in white.’
    • ‘Now you might argue, so why do you need a feminine suffix of the numeral when you have a noun which is masculine?’
  • 3Music
    (of a cadence) occurring on a metrically weak beat.

    • ‘The only full cadence - a languid feminine cadence drawn out over a full measure - comes at the close of the B section.’
    • ‘If, on the other hand, we accept the idea of an 'extra-light' feminine cadence, we obtain a pleasing rounded construction.’


the feminine
  • 1The female sex or gender.

    ‘the association of the arts with the feminine’
    • ‘He also effectively denied a role for the feminine in the Church and in salvation when he developed an anthropology that took the male as the sum of what it means to be most fully human.’
    • ‘On the social level, the plays perform gender-balancing acts through an elaboration of the feminine.’
    • ‘Daphne functions at once as a mother and a lover, and her actions suggest the stereotypically masculine as well as the feminine.’
    • ‘I was addressing the problem of celibate priests who are in danger of leading lives divorced from the feminine.’
    • ‘Saying what you want and how you feel is clearly the realm of the feminine.’
    • ‘Rather, at the basic level of categorization, the principal contrast is between masculine and feminine.’
    • ‘In discussing drag, we talk about challenging the audience's conception of gender, or recovering the male performer's sense of the feminine.’
    • ‘Nonetheless, the distinction between the masculine and feminine constitutes a significant aspect that informs the operation of seduction.’
    • ‘While it is true that Margaret's scientific theories support the emergence of a new image of female selfhood, I would argue that they exceed such revaluing of the feminine.’
    • ‘The role of imagery of the feminine in philosophical texts is not unrelated to the fact that the philosophical tradition was dominated by men.’
    • ‘Everything I've ever written could be said to be a hymn to the feminine.’
    • ‘After a decade or so when lad culture reigned supreme, there's a new willingness among men to engage with the negatives in their masculinity, and to embrace the feminine.’
    • ‘I mean we're talking about a virgin figure, an exalted virgin figure who according to Catholic doctrine remained a virgin, and so it's a particular kind of concept of the feminine.’
    • ‘It must be part of an inclusive approach to discussing a new history, which integrates the feminine with the masculine.’
    • ‘As in her conception of female sexuality, doubling and multiplying are associated with the feminine.’
    • ‘The celebration of the latter underscored the new authority of retail work, women, and the feminine.’
    • ‘Mills uses historical analysis to trace the development of corporate imagery that equates the feminine with the erotic in the British airline industry.’
    • ‘It concerns the characteristics that a society or group attributes to the masculine or the feminine.’
    • ‘The Catholic understanding of the feminine would be lost forever if the Church had a female priesthood.’
    • ‘Early in the film, Janice's transgressions already resonate on a specific historical level and tap into older notions regarding the feminine.’
    1. 1.1Grammar A feminine word or form.
      • ‘After a long time, Michel fell asleep thinking about how the boat itself was named after a man, yet was always referred to in the feminine.’
      • ‘A noun that is classified as feminine in one language might be masculine in another.’
      • ‘Even today we refer to objects like ships in the feminine!’


Late Middle English: from Latin femininus, from femina ‘woman’.