- 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.”
- the feminine gender.
- a noun or other element in or marking that gender.
- suitable to or characteristic of a womana feminine fashion
- possessing qualities or characteristics considered typical of or appropriate to a woman
- effeminate; womanish
- 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
- (as noun)German Zeit “time” and Ehe “marriage” are feminines
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.”