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The feminine of confidant is confidante, probably due to the French origin of the word (confident, whose feminine is confidente). I wonder which other words of foreign origin commonly used in English have kept their original feminine?

Edit: so there may be entire categories of such words, of course, I should have thought of that. Do people have examples other from languages other than French, Italian and Latin? I was trying to think, for example, of a pair of such words of German origin, but can't find any.

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Watch out for @Kosmo, he won't like you calling them foreign words :) –  Benjol Feb 17 '11 at 11:20
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I think this would include a large number of words that inflect for gender using suffixes like -ess, -ette, -ine, -ina, -trix. (princess, ballerina, fiancee, abbess, duchess) –  Tragicomic Feb 17 '11 at 11:44
    
This question should probably be a CW. –  kiamlaluno Feb 17 '11 at 12:06
    
Kiam: Enlighten me, why a CW? –  mplungjan Feb 17 '11 at 12:19
    
@mplungjan: Because the question is asking for examples; every answer would be equally acceptable, and there would not be a right answer. –  kiamlaluno Feb 17 '11 at 13:19

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

There must be lots...

French:

  • princess (from Old French princesse) and prince; countess, duchess, marquise, baroness, and lots of other -ess words
  • doyenne and doyen

Italian:

  • ballerina (although you don't see ballerino very often)
  • prima donna (and rarely primo uomo)

Latin:

  • victrix and victor
  • aviatrix and aviator (although we seldom use these Latin suffixes anymore)
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Afrikaans: Komponiste, Dutch: Componiste –  mplungjan Feb 17 '11 at 12:24
    
@mplungjan: but is Komponiste (or Componiste) used in English? –  F'x Feb 17 '11 at 13:32
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Nope, hence a comment on an answer containing Italian and Latin :) –  mplungjan Feb 17 '11 at 13:54
    
@mplungjan: fair enough! –  F'x Feb 17 '11 at 15:01
    
@mplungjan - I submitted my answer before FX_'s edit ;) And these are all words that English has assimilated and anglicised in pronunciation. –  gpr Feb 17 '11 at 21:38

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