Is it degrading/condescending to refer to a woman as 'female'?


I doubt accusing us of being sensational will help your point. :stuck_out_tongue:


I’m not accusing. I said I have a strong sense. A sense can be very, very wrong - hence, sense.


But you phrased it as a claim, which is what an accusation can be. A claim of wrongdoing.


Looks like it, but that is not really the connection. Got this from Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

Did You Know?
In the 14th century, female appeared in English with such spellings as femel, femelle, and female. The word comes from the Latin femella, meaning “young woman, girl,” which in turn is based on femina, meaning “woman.” In English, the similarity in form and sound between the words female and male led people to use only the female spelling. This closeness also led to the belief that female comes from or is somehow related to male. However, apart from the influence of male on the modern spelling of female, there is no link between the origins of the two words.

The word male, by the way, derives from the Latin masculus.


That’s fair, I suppose. I am sorry if I accused! :slight_smile: I guess I don’t know how else to describe what’s happening when people are saying that dictionaries do not list ‘female’ as a noun.


Well, so far only one such dictionary has been listed, and it’s not one a random one with no merit. Her claim isn’t groundless. Did Google say which dictionary it uses in its search results?



The slang is an inner city thing. I’m not African American, so I’m not 100% sure there, but I BELIEVE that in the African American community using the “woman” often throws back to slavery just like using the word “boy” does.

So I THINK that’s why some African Americans use female in place of woman. I THINK that’s the genius of that. However, I could be totally mistaken.

God Bless


An old edition, perhaps? The oldest Webster’s dictionary in my possession dates from only 1977 and lists female as a noun with definitions similar to those in today’s online version.



2008, though some might argue that is old.


The word “female” is both a noun and an adjective, depending on its usage.


Yes, so I have repeatedly been told. :wink:


It’s a fairly recent usage. Like using “adult” as a verb. :wink:


Interesting, didn’t know that. I am actually a Latin teacher but didn’t make that connection. Nice post.


Older men here in East London tend to address ladies a ‘luv’ or ‘darling’. Women from the same class or background even when younger take no offence as none is meant, however women who are not familiar with this usage can find it odd. Culture clash in action…


Yep, in Ireland you will often find guys going around going, '“How are you doing todays boys?” to groups of other men. I’ve often wondered at the prospects for conflict if you threw some farmer from Kerry into an inner city area in the USA and had him use the same expression totally innocently.


Right. What is considered respectful usage differs over time and between cultures. It’s not some sinister conspiracy to take away your words or nullify the concept of gender; it’s just a shift (hastened in this era of speedy communication) in what is seen as polite vs. rude.


People who maintain some sense of proportion seem able to deal with this and recognize words are used differently in other cultures. Especially if they interact with other cultures frequently. For example in Turkey it is not considered rude to simply nod sharply instead of saying thank you at the end of a transaction, it looks abrupt though when you do it elsewhere and I’ve seen Turkish guys do it thinking nothing of and then get flak back from people not familiar with this custom.


…said the language police.

Did you radio dispatch?..
“There’s a male in the Social Justice forum who started a thread about the use of the word ‘female’. There are a lot of females gathering at the scene and they look pretty agitated. Requesting a female officer for backup.”

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