From Middle English female, an alteration of Middle English femelle, from Old French femele, femelle, from Medieval Latin fēmella ("a female"), from Latin fēmella ("a girl, a young female, a young woman"), diminutive of fēmina. The English spelling and pronunciation were remodelled under the influence of male, which is otherwise not etymologically related. Contrast woman, which is etymologically built on man (as in person).
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