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[fem-uh-nin] /ˈfɛm ə nɪn/
pertaining to a woman or girl:
feminine beauty; feminine dress.
having qualities traditionally ascribed to women, as sensitivity or gentleness.
effeminate; womanish:
a man with a feminine walk.
belonging to the female sex; female:
feminine staff members.
Grammar. noting or pertaining to that one of the three genders of Latin, Greek, German, etc., or one of the two genders of French, Spanish, Hebrew, etc., having among its members most nouns referring to females, as well as other nouns, as Latin stella “star,” or German Zeit “time.”.
noun, Grammar.
the feminine gender.
a noun or other element in or marking that gender.
Origin of feminine
1350-1400; Middle English < Anglo-French, Old French: feminine of feminin < L of fēminīnus, equivalent to fēmin(a) woman (see fetus) + -īnus -ine1
Related forms
femininely, adverb
feminineness, noun
antifeminine, adjective
antifemininely, adverb
antifeminineness, noun
half-feminine, adjective
hyperfeminine, adjective
hyperfemininely, adverb
hyperfeminineness, noun
overfeminine, adjective
overfemininely, adverb
pseudofeminine, adjective
superfeminine, adjective
ultrafeminine, adjective
unfeminine, adjective
unfemininely, adverb
Can be confused
female, feminine (see synonym study at female)
effeminate, effete, feminine, womanish, womanly (see synonym study at womanly)
2. See female. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for feminine
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • There will come times when you will be grateful for these feminine headaches.

    The Motor Pirate George Sidney Paternoster
  • Leave this lady to me; I know how to manage these feminine vixens.

  • She laughed, more because it was the feminine way than in her feeling.

    Tales of the Chesapeake George Alfred Townsend
  • She was in as feminine a fright as though she had never braved a danger.

    The Cavalier George Washington Cable
  • Well;—perhaps it may be that a more perfect form of feminine beauty may be ascribed to another.

    Marion Fay Anthony Trollope
British Dictionary definitions for feminine


suitable to or characteristic of a woman: a feminine fashion
possessing qualities or characteristics considered typical of or appropriate to a woman
effeminate; womanish
  1. denoting or belonging to a gender of nouns, occurring in many inflected languages, that includes all kinds of referents as well as some female animate referents
  2. (as noun): German Zeit ``time'' and Ehe ``marriage'' are feminines
Derived Forms
femininely, adverb
feminineness, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin fēminīnus, from fēmina woman
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for feminine

mid-14c., "of the female sex," from Old French femenin (12c.) "feminine, female; with feminine qualities, effeminate," from Latin femininus "feminine" (in the grammatical sense at first), from femina "woman, female," literally "she who suckles," from root of felare "to suck, suckle" (see fecund). Sense of "woman-like, proper to or characteristic of women" is recorded from mid-15c.

The interplay of meanings now represented in female, feminine, and effeminate, and the attempt to make them clear and separate, has led to many coinages: feminitude (1878); feminile "feminine" (1640s); feminility "womanliness" (1838); femality (17c., "effeminacy;" 1754 "female nature"). Also feminality (1640s, "quality or state of being female"), from rare adjective feminal (late 14c.), from Old French feminal. And femineity "quality or state of being feminine," from Latin femineus "of a woman, pertaining to a woman."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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