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Can you say of a woman that she is "dashing", meaning that she looks stupendous, graceful etc.?

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3 Answers 3

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A quick search of Google books shows that "dashing woman" has been used before, and FumbleFingers kindly did this NGram comparing the use of "dashing" with relation to men and women, showing that it is much more common to use dashing for men.

Etymology Online gives the origin of "dashing" as "cutting a dash", meaning acting brilliantly, from "dash" in the sense of showy appearance. Indeed, Dictionary.Com demonstrates that the idiomatic use of "dashing" as "make a striking appearance" is still common usage.

So yes, I think a woman should like to be described as dashing. Although you might use "fetching" if you think she wouldn't slap you. As this NGram demonstrates, "fetching" is a bit more common these days.

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Thanks guys! I'll try my luck tonight actually with that adjective, see how that goes for the lady... I'm French, her British, so there's that :) –  Krimo May 20 '11 at 13:09
@Guy Fawkes If British women are like American women: if you're French, you can probably use whatever word you want and she'll swoon. Good luck :) –  KitFox May 20 '11 at 13:15
@Kit You were right :) –  Krimo May 23 '11 at 6:31

Dashing means 'energetic, spirited, showy, stylish' and can be used to describe a woman.

However, it would not describe a woman as "graceful", or "beautiful", or "gentle", but rather more of the "charming", "bright", "lively" description.

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Using "dashing" to describe a woman or young girl could be done, but it would suggest mannish qualities which, for a female, would not be good.

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Why do you say this? Do you have any sources? –  American Luke Dec 21 '13 at 16:31

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