THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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FEMALE, the correlative of “male,” the sex which performs the function of conceiving and bearing as opposed to the begetting of young. The word in Middle English is femelle, adopted from the French from the Lat. femella, which is a diminutive, and in classical Latin used strictly as such, of femina, a woman. The present termination in English is due to a connexion in ideas with “male.” In various mechanical devices, where two corresponding parts work within the other, the receiving part is often known as the “female,” as for example in the “male” and “female screw.” The O. Fr. feme, modern femme, occurs in legal phraseology in feme covert, a married woman, i.e. one protected or covered by a husband, and in feme sole, one not so protected, a widow or spinster (see Women and Husband and Wife).
Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected. They appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked passage. Sections in Greek will yield a transliteration when the pointer is moved over them, and words using diacritic characters in the Latin Extended Additional block, which may not display in some fonts or browsers, will display an unaccented version.

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