— femaleness , n.
/fee"mayl/ , n.
1. 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.
2. an organism of the sex or sexual phase that normally produces egg cells.
3. Bot. a pistillate plant.
4. of, pertaining to, or being a female animal or plant.
5. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a female person; feminine: female suffrage; female charm.
6. composed of females: a female readership.
a. designating or pertaining to a plant or its reproductive structure that produces or contains elements requiring fertilization.
b. (of seed plants) pistillate.
8. Mach. being or having a recessed part into which a corresponding part fits: a female plug. Cf. male (def. 5).
[ 1275-1325; ME, var. (by assoc. with MALE) of femelle femel ( l ) e femella, dim. of femina woman (see -ELLE); in VL developing the sense "female of an animal" ]
Syn. 1. See woman. 4-7. FEMALE, FEMININE, EFFEMINATE are adjectives that describe women and girls or attributes and conduct culturally ascribed to them. FEMALE, which is applied to plants and animals as well as to human beings, is a biological or physiological descriptor, classifying individuals on the basis of their potential or actual ability to produce offspring in bisexual reproduction. It contrasts with MALE in all uses: her oldest female relative; the female parts of the flower.
FEMININE refers essentially to qualities or behaviors deemed by a culture or society to be especially appropriate to or ideally associated with women and girls. In American and Western European culture, these have traditionally included features such as delicacy, gentleness, gracefulness, and patience: to dance with feminine grace; a feminine sensitivity to moods.
FEMININE is also, less frequently, used to refer to physical features: a lovely feminine figure; small, feminine hands. EFFEMINATE is most often applied derogatorily to men or boys, suggesting that they have character or behavior traits culturally believed to be appropriate to women and girls rather than to men: an effeminate horror of rough play; an effeminate speaking style. See also womanly .