Female – One who suckles

Female: according to Wikipedia, is ‘is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, that produces non-mobile ova (egg cells)’.

So how did the word get into English? It came to us from French as the word ‘femelle’ around the 12 century CE. Before that it had came from Latin as ‘femella’ where interestingly it referred only to young women, and was a derivative of the word ‘femina’ which meant female, ‘femella’ was essentially ‘little woman’ (sort of like how we use ‘piglet’ to mean ‘little pig’).

‘Femina’ meant literally ‘one who suckles’, where ‘felare’ meant the act of suckling.

Both ‘male’ and ‘female’ came into use in the 14th century with ‘male’ having its roots in the Latin ‘masculus’ meaning masculine.

 

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