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a person bearing two X chromosomes in the cell nuclei and normally having a vagina, a uterus and ovaries, and developing at puberty a relatively rounded body and enlarged breasts, and retaining a beardless face; a girl or woman.
an organism of the sex or sexual phase that normally produces egg cells.
Botany. a pistillate plant.
of, relating to, or being a female animal or plant.
of, relating to, or characteristic of a female person; feminine:
female suffrage; female charm.
composed of females:
a female readership.

designating or pertaining to a plant or its reproductive structure that produces or contains elements requiring fertilization.
(of seed plants) pistillate.

Machinery. being or having a recessed part into which a corresponding part fits:
a female plug.
Compare (def 5).
Contemporary Examples

In West Virginia, one of the first female coal miners in the country sued the owner of the mine to get him to stop stalking her.
Women Who Paved the Way Betsy West February 25, 2013

It angers me that, in general, female diaries are considered less philosophical than male diaries.
Interview: ‘Heroines’ Author Kate Zambreno Michele Filgate November 22, 2012

Seventy percent of guest workers from Indonesia, for example, are female.
Today’s Hidden Slave Trade Michelle Goldberg June 28, 2011

The radical Islamists for whom she feels so much contempt have a problem with female sexuality, which they want to cover up.
Egypt Shocked After Female Dissident Blogger Posts Nude Photos Emily Esfahani Smith November 16, 2011

El-Hamy Mahmoud El-Hamy, a Cairo landlord, recently urged a female tenant to buy a gun for self-defense purposes.
Egypt’s Arms Race Sophia Jones August 22, 2013

Historical Examples

female—Head and neck, cinnamon brown, paler on the throat; back, dark gray.
Game Birds and Game Fishes of the Pacific Coast Harry Thom Payne

This operation is performed by a female, with the aid of a stamp.
The Story of the Invention of Steel Pens Henry Bore

These reflections suddenly filled me with deep interest in the stranger and his female companion.
The Mysteries of London, v. 1/4 George W. M. Reynolds

Many of them were black, and a good share were of the female sex.
Harriet, The Moses of Her People Sarah H. Bradford

There was a female slave the property of some crafty men who by her means traded on the simplicity of the colonists.
The Expositor’s Bible: The Acts of the Apostles, Vol. 2 G. T. Stokes

of, relating to, or designating the sex producing gametes (ova) that can be fertilized by male gametes (spermatozoa)
of, relating to, or characteristic of a woman: female charm
for or composed of women or girls: female suffrage, a female choir
(of reproductive organs such as the ovary and carpel) capable of producing female gametes
(of gametes such as the ovum) capable of being fertilized by a male gamete in sexual reproduction
(of flowers) lacking, or having nonfunctional, stamens
having an internal cavity into which a projecting male counterpart can be fitted: a female thread

a female animal or plant
(derogatory) a woman or girl


early 14c., from Old French femelle (12c.) “woman, female,” from Medieval Latin femella “a female,” from Latin femella “young female, girl,” diminutive of femina “woman” (see feminine).

Sense extended in Vulgar Latin from humans to female of other animals. Spelling altered late 14c. on mistaken parallel of male. As an adjective, from early 14c. Reference to sockets, etc., is from 1660s.

female fe·male (fē’māl’)
Of, relating to, or denoting the sex that produces ova or bears young. n.

A member of the sex that produces ova or bears young.

A woman or girl.


In organisms that reproduce sexually, being the gamete that is larger and less motile than the other corresponding gamete (the male gamete) of the same species. The egg cells of higher animals and plants are female gametes.

Possessing or being a structure that produces only female gametes. The ovaries of humans are female reproductive organs. Female flowers possess only carpels and no stamens.

Having the genitalia or other structures typical of a female organism. Worker ants are female but sterile.

Noun A female organism.


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