Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

This question already has an answer here:

Is there a feminine equivalent for "Casanova" without negative connotations?

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by TimLymington, tchrist, RyeɃreḁd, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者, medica May 20 at 22:18

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

2  
Chanova? -- Chanova Novinski (aka Chanova The Female Casanova) –  Kris Oct 29 '13 at 5:24
3  
What do you mean by the proviso "without negative connotations"? Are you merely asking a question parallel to 'Is there a feminine equivalent to "George"?'? Because the answers below don't answer accordingly - I don't see how 'siren', 'seductress' and 'temptress' can be claimed not to have 'negative connotations' (or probably even denotations). –  Edwin Ashworth Oct 29 '13 at 9:16
9  
What is a -male- equivalent for 'Casanova', without negative connotations? –  Mitch Oct 30 '13 at 0:27
4  
That occurred to me too, Mitch. Because of various sexual mores and double standards, Casanova can be a compliment or an insult depending on the audience. Thus, words like siren and femme fatale aren't necessarily bad choices, although I think a good answer should explain the subtleties of it rather than just throw the words out there. –  Bradd Szonye Oct 30 '13 at 0:46
3  
To the person who awarded the bounty on this answer. What!? First, "Promiscuous hussie" has two words not one, secondly, it's spelt hussy. Third, if ever there was a sexist and more negative image of a female equivalent of Casanova, it's hard to come up with one worse than promiscuous hussy. Finally, "polyamorous" is not exclusive to women. It's shameful, and I as a woman, am deeply offended by the idea that the OP believes that a woman "Casanova" who has multiple sexual partners is a "hussy". –  Mari-Lou A Mar 11 at 3:44

14 Answers 14

up vote 27 down vote accepted

I don't think you can find a term that is entirely symmetrical, because the cultural concepts of romantic and sexual pursuit aren't symmetrical. Identical behavior in a man and a woman will usually be interpreted differently in most cultures I know.

The reason it's hard for you to find a non-perjorative female counterpart to casanova, and the reason so many of the suggestions given here are either negative in connotations (maneater, siren) or full of other connotations (Mata Hari, Cleopatra) isn't in the words and names, they just reflect a cultural bias inherent in our society.

share|improve this answer

Casanova does not have a consistent definition but here are a few typical examples:

Casanova — 1) A man who is amorously and gallantly attentive to women. 2) A promiscuous man; a philanderer.

Casanova — a man with a reputation for having many amorous adventures; rake; Don Juan.

Casanova — lover; especially a man who is a promiscuous and unscrupulous lover

The closest match I could find was femme fatale:

A femme fatale is a mysterious and seductive woman whose charms ensnare her lovers in bonds of irresistible desire, often leading them into compromising, dangerous, and deadly situations.

femme fatale — an irresistibly attractive woman, especially one who leads men into difficult, dangerous, or disastrous situations; siren.

femme fatale — a woman who attracts men by an aura of charm and mystery

The major difference between the two is that a Casanova typically pursues women while a femme fatale lures men. Most of the other suggestions have the same fundamental issue. Typically, any term referring to a women to chases or charms men has extremely negative connotations (e.g. slut; seducer). Casanova doesn't completely escape these negative connotations but there is still a sense of accomplishment or prowess in the Casanova's ability to charm women.

Of the variants I know, the most positive simply describe the women's attractiveness:

  • bombshell
  • pin-up girl
  • supermodel
  • sex symbol

Which, again, falls into the category of the women luring men instead of chasing after them and winning their hearts through charm.

share|improve this answer
2  
Casanova does have a consistent definition. Giacomo Casanova was real person who was known for seducing women. See here. I would say that all three of your definitions are at best nuanced, but really the same. Otherwise, I agree with your answer. –  David M Mar 4 at 21:53
    
Perhaps a fatal (punintended) distinction is that a femme fatale is remarkable specifically for the doom she brings to her victims. A victim of Cassanova is not expected to have a dire fate. I will grant you that both terms confer on their partners a degree of forgiveness -- the mollification of victimhood. –  BobStein-VisiBone Mar 9 at 13:57

Casanova a man famed for his love of women. An Italian man who had more lovers in his bed than you or I have had hot dinners. Therefore when asking for a female equivalent we must think of a lascivious woman, a woman who didn't seduce men in order to uncover their secrets, gain power, wealth, or position. But a woman who is (or was) sexually uninhibited someone who adored men and above all making love. There is one historical figure who is recognized to be one of the most influential and powerful woman leaders in history.

Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great was empress of Russia from 1762 until she died in 1796. After her husband had failed to satisfy her sexual needs for seven years she began to take many lovers to her bed, in fact she quickly developed a taste for young soldiers.

She had a special area built in her bedroom, which was curtained off and where she received her lovers. Gregory Orlov was her on and off lover for around thirteen years. He was said to possess excellent equipment, unbelievable ‘stamina’ and an insatiable appetite for sex. She had several lovers at the same time and they were expected to perform as and when needed. If they did not satisfy they were kicked out of the palace, but given a handsome sum of money first. Her young men were carefully vetted for fear of diseases. The court physician would first examine them thoroughly; then they would be passed on to the Countess Bruce, who would interview them, inform them of what the empress liked and did not like in bed. Then she would proceed to try them out, to ensure they were all they were all they promised to be. Only then would they be ‘delivered’ to a suite of rooms, where a box of 100,000 roubles would be waiting for them, as a gift for the services they were about to render

Source

If a woman was compared to "Catherine the Great" I think, nowadays, she would be flattered (as long as she didn't delve too deeply in Catherine the Great's "achievements".) Besides, the adjective great is perfect, it suggests that the woman being compared is "great in bed".

share|improve this answer
    
This is an interesting answer, and I like how you put a positive spin on Catherine's sexual exploits, although I'm concerned that other people wouldn't reach the same conclusion. Her sexual notoriety has a dark side, including some unfortunate apocrypha about Catherine and a horse, and I'm afraid that people might jump to that rather than thinking of it as something empowering. –  Bradd Szonye Oct 30 '13 at 1:14
    
If anyone can get get away with the reputational problem of having many lovers, an Empress can. So +1 from me. –  Pitarou Oct 30 '13 at 4:59
    
@BraddSzonye I don't think that "equestrian" legend has ever been confirmed, it could well have been a rumour spread by her enemies to discredit Catherine after her death. But I was aware of that distasteful story hence my parenthetical comment. –  Mari-Lou A Oct 30 '13 at 6:10
1  
According to this comment made by the OP: For me Casanova- "A smooth-talking charmer male who has mastered the art of finding, meeting, attracting girls and he can smoothly maintain relations with all girls at same time".. So i am looking for feminine equivalent for the same And the answer deserving his bounty is "promiscuous hussy". I am DUMBFOUNDED! It's a disgrace, all along the OP was searching for an abusive, derogatory term to label women who have different sexual partners. –  Mari-Lou A Mar 11 at 4:18
1  
And this comment The equivalent that i am looking for should not lie into category of abusive words Is further proof that the OP's original request and the answer awarded the bounty are in extreme conflict. –  Mari-Lou A Mar 11 at 4:23

A siren is a good term for a beautiful woman that lures men to do what she wants.

Urban dictionary - Siren

A very attractive female who has many boys drooling over her.

The classic tease. A girl who leads on multiple guys with either her attraction or seductive personality, only to reject every offer sent her way; leaving the guy to grieve over his shortcoming.

Seductress or temptress might have the classical connotation that Casanova has.

Temptress
a woman who seduces someone, esp. one who entices a man into sexual activity.

There is also man-eater for the 80s Hall and Oates fans:

So many have paid to see
What you think
You're gettin' for free
The woman is wild
A she-cat tamed
By the purr of a Jaguar
Money's the matter
If you're in it for love
You ain't gonna get too far

(Oh-oh, here she comes)
Watch out boy She'll chew you up
(Oh-oh, here she comes)
She's a maneater

share|improve this answer
4  
These all have negative connotations, especially man-eater. –  Bradd Szonye Oct 29 '13 at 11:01
    
@BraddSzonye I think man-eater does but I do not agree with the others suggestions. Siren, temptress, and seductress carry the same meaning to me. However if you view women different from men in our society - in that they are not supposed have fun and sleep around then I would agree they might have negative connotations. I though would love to find a temptress. –  RyeɃreḁd Oct 29 '13 at 13:36
    
@BraddSzonye - I understand where siren came from. I do not agree that when used in a modern sentence to describe a woman that it conveys that she wants to destroy a man. I see it used commonly in basic gossip/pub and it conveys a woman who can captivate you with her looks. It is used a lot when describing girls in the music biz but hear it for actresses and whatever. portalnicole.com/en/2012/01/04/… –  RyeɃreḁd Oct 29 '13 at 22:26
    
Collins defines that sense of the word as “a woman considered to be dangerously alluring or seductive.” Random House attests “a seductively beautiful or charming woman, esp. one who beguiles men.” Just because the meaning has softened in some contexts doesn't mean that it's free from negative connotation – or in this case, negative denotation. Note also that media sources are likely taking advantage of the “dangerous” connotation – the same sources will often refer to similar women as femmes fatale. –  Bradd Szonye Oct 29 '13 at 22:35
2  
Unfortunately, I don't think the edit improves the answer. This sounds entirely negative to me: “A girl who leads on multiple guys with either her attraction or seductive personality, only to reject every offer sent her way; leaving the guy to grieve over his shortcoming.” More to the point, it argues against using the word like Casanova, who is anything but a tease. I recommend removing the word (and man-eater) from the answer. –  Bradd Szonye Oct 29 '13 at 23:00

Casanova

Since Casanova is a family name, it could just as easily apply to a woman as to a man, also in the sense of

lover; who is a promiscuous and unscrupulous

share|improve this answer
2  
This is a really good answer! Unless I'm mistaken, "She's a real Casanova" would be as readily understood as "He's a real Casanova" would be. –  user867 Nov 12 '13 at 1:47

Perhaps vamp

a seductive woman who uses her sensuality to exploit men.

Per the Oxford English Dictionary, vamp is originally English, used first by G. K. Chesterton, but popularized in the American silent film The Vamp, starring Enid Bennett


From the plot summary of the movie The Vamp:

Nancy, a naive young girl who works backstage at a musical-comedy theatre, learns from the chorus girls the notion of winning a man by the seductive method of "vamping" him.

share|improve this answer

A true equivalent to Casanova is hard to come up with, because the mere act of persuading large numbers of men to mate isn't much of an achievement for a woman.

Cleopatra and Mata Hari were noted for their ability to seduce high-status men. They made up in quality what they lacked in quantity.

Venus and Aphrodite, as goddesses, had the sexual license to toy with numerous lovers.

As a Hollywood movie star, Mae West also had some of the license of the classical goddesses, and made full use of it.

Vita Sackville-West gets honourable mention for seducing women as well as men.

If I had to pick one, it would be Mata Hari.

share|improve this answer
    
The problem with Cleopatra and Mata Hari is that their claims to fame are primarily based on other accomplishments - ruling Egypt and being an effective spy. Casanova, on the other hand, was primarily known for his amorous activities. –  bib Oct 29 '13 at 11:42
    
@bib Given the manner of her death, I suggest Mata Hari was an ineffective spy. –  Andrew Lazarus Oct 29 '13 at 20:34
2  
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that Mata Hari was primarily a courtesan -- the spying was just a sideline. I chose her because, like Casanova, I knew the name and what it stood for long before I knew anything about the person. –  Pitarou Oct 29 '13 at 23:11
    
But she became famous for being a spy. To the extent her name has become an archetype, it highlights the appropriation of a courtesan's access for espionage. You don't call someone a Mata Hari just for being successful at seduction. It's for having ulterior purposes. –  BobStein-VisiBone Mar 4 at 9:26
    
@BobStein-VisiBone You might be right about that. –  Pitarou Mar 5 at 5:19

I suggest enchantress. I reach this conclusion after elaborating below upon the interpretation of Casanova and related gender-specific and gender-neutral words:

While being referred to as a Casanova carries the suggestive meaning that one is a man with many sexual conquests, it also has the less provocative meaning of being a man with many female companions, being charming and charismatic, and in many ways attractive to women.

Other similar words that are more gender neutral and that carry the same coarse and clean meanings are player and swinger. Both words describe a personal and a public nature of the individual, where the public side is that of a flamboyant character who finds himself or herself to be regularly and happily in the company of a person of the opposite sex.

This public display represents a more tasteful side of the Casanova/Player/Swinger character trait, and thus might even be considered a positive character trait.

Entertainers like Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, and Sammie Davis, Jr. (Known collectively as "The Rat Pack") come to mind as men of this type. (And one should not forget their close friend and famous "swordsman", Errol Flynn.) These are all people whom we welcomed into our homes on the television for family entertainment, and it was their swinger (in a positive sense) attitudes and their gregarious personalities that made them so interesting and fun. Women swooned over them, and to call them Casanovas was appropriate just for the dizzying interest they provoked and encouraged.

To find a word for a woman whose presence spans the same breadth, consisting not just of the sexuality, but also of that interest-gathering energy level, obviously takes some consideration. Most men, after all, won't grant as much importance to a woman's personality or sit transfixed at a party where the female hostess holds court for everyone's entertainment. But a woman who can be more of a mistress than a hostess, in that she has the power to control men while keeping them spellbound, would qualify.

This brings me to the word enchantress, which is a woman of great charm and fascination, an irresistibly charming woman, a woman who is considered dangerously seductive, a woman with seemingly magical powers.

Synonyms of enchantress (some of which have already been provided in other answers) are really only near equivalents:

  • Femme fatale has a destructive attribute than an enchantress doesn’t necessarily have.
  • Temptress emphasizes the seductive side, and leaves out the captivating (non-sexual) charm.
  • Delilah was a seductive and treacherous woman, known best for bringing down Sampson, a man who mocked her with lies about his strength. She hardly fits the charming and fascinating model.
  • Godess is a woman greatly admired or adored, usually for he beauty.
  • Siren is seductive and beautiful, and the mythological nymphs by that name were known to fascinate mariners with their sweet singing, while luring them to destruction on their island (making them the equivalent of femme fatales).

Quoting some web authors on what an enchantress is, here are some thoughts:

The enchantress has a feminine allure, and is at the same time fiercely independent and confident. Enchantresses understand that every man needs to feel like the best man he can be through the supportive love of a woman. They were beloved by the knights not just because they knew how to feed male sexual desires, but because they knew how to make their men better knights! (source)

and

The enchantresses in the legends of King Arthur brought balance to a society ruled by male domination. Through their seductive, female magic they magnetized the men of Camelot-- the King’s warriors set aside their brutish behavior and broke their backs to court these women. They acted with chivalry in the hopes of earning a smidgen of feminine admiration and tender, female affection. (source)

share|improve this answer

Since Casanova is a man, I'm going to suggest here a biblical woman:

Delilah

  1. (Old Testament) the Philistine mistress of Samson who betrayed him by cutting off his hair and so deprived him of his strength

  2. a woman who is considered to be dangerously seductive

share|improve this answer

Depending on your audience, slut works well.

In the past dozen years, polyamorous and LGBT communities have reclaimed the term from typical pejorative usage. This new definition stems from a book, The Ethical Slut, which states:

[A] slut is a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you.

The book, subtitled A Practical Guide to Polyamory, "discusses how to live an active life with multiple concurrent sexual relationships in a fair and honest way [emphasis added]."

This is a close match to the criteria proposed in the comments (a "charmer" who can "smoothly maintain relations with all at the same time").

Most people will not consider this alternative definition, even if you specify that you are describing an ethical slut. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that there are minority groups where the word embodies the idea of a "Casanova without negative connotations."

share|improve this answer

A Casanova is a man who

  • is unusually, famously successful at seduction,
  • is as ardently sought as he is a notorious seeker,
  • has multiple female lovers,
  • who are generally not jealous of each other,
  • is desired by many other women,
  • may be respected,
  • may be reviled.
  • Being his victim may be a point of pride.

A courtesan is a woman who

  • is unusually, famously successful at seduction,
  • is as ardently sought as she is a notorious seeker,
  • has multiple male lovers,
  • who are generally not jealous of each other,
  • is desired by many other men,
  • may be respected,
  • may be reviled,
  • Being her victim may be a point of pride.

Depending upon the application, the exchange of money may make a courtesan too dissimilar to a Cassanova. On the other hand it may be immaterial, or less notable than the above similarities. It may reflect instead some of the asymmetry of gender roles that @AvnerShaharKashtan talks about, in what a man or a woman brings to the table in seduction.

share|improve this answer

When a man chases women and beds them, it's a kind of achievement for them but when a woman does the same, she is looked down upon.

So, I think there is no apt female counterpart for Casanova without negative connotations. A woman's real achievement is drawing/luring men towards her. And many of the answers have already listed terms for those women.

share|improve this answer

Casanova is an italian name witch could be understood as “New house”. And, in italian, “casa” is a feminine substantive. As you see.

share|improve this answer
1  
I think that he is looking for a synonym that is equally applicable to women, not a description of the word Casanova. –  David M Mar 4 at 2:09
  1. SOCIALITE !
  2. Charismatic
  3. ingénue
  4. charmer
  5. Perfect Match
  6. girl next door
  7. the popular girl
  8. social butterfly
  9. miss congeniality
  10. cruise director
  11. leader
  12. CEO
  13. matchmaker
  14. eligible bachelorette
  15. dame on the dating scene
  16. confident woman
  17. in charge
  18. lover
  19. girlfriend
  20. choosy
  21. dater
  22. datemaster
  23. modern woman
  24. adult
  25. Liberated woman
  26. Diva
share|improve this answer
1  
None of these convey the sense of seduction that Casanova was known for. –  David M Mar 4 at 2:10
    
Most aren't close. Socialites are people whose main activity is socialising. Cruise directors direct cruises - not aware of any other meaning. Charismatic, social butterfly, leader, confident woman, diva, adult, CEO (?!?) and many others don't say anything about a woman's love life. Eligible bachelorette is passive. Matchmakers make romantic matches for other people. "Dame on the dating scene" is good (though I've not heard it before). –  user568458 May 29 at 9:06

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.