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I'm looking for a word which could satisfy the usage of "suitor", except it would be used to indicate female "suitors":

E.g.:

She had a host of suitors eagerly awaiting her favour...

Now, I want a word that could fit in this sentence, except it would be about females:

He had a bevy of ?????? eagerly awaiting his favour...

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You could steal from Elvis Costello, adjust it a little, and call them a bevy of beauties. –  cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Apr 24 '12 at 16:32
    
Would "supplicant" be even remotely synonymous with "female suitor"? –  user42889 Apr 20 '13 at 14:18
    
It's hard to prove a negative, but I don't think there's a close corresponding term. 'Suitress' just sounds made-up and 'female suitor' makes obvious the one-sidedness of the term 'suitor'. I can only suggest an alternative, something like 'prospects'. –  Mitch Apr 20 '13 at 15:42
    
Modern times call for modern measures... Don't let the ender define the word. –  user51570 Sep 9 '13 at 23:24
    
I used the word suitor on my Wikipedia article on The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck for the prospective brides of James IV, neither of whom he ultimately married (James married Princess Margaret, older sister of Henry VIII, but that isn't covered in the novel, and she appears in only one scene, comforting a dog Henry has abused). I was looking to see if there is a better word, and it doesn't appear that there is one. –  user64500 Feb 2 at 22:21
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6 Answers 6

up vote 16 down vote accepted

I think one day the word for this will be suitor, just as now actresses are sometimes simply called actors. Until then, it seems that female suitor is the most common phrase.

This example is from a New York Times book review of An Available Man:

He picks it up to hear the clamorous, intrusive voice of a female suitor, attempting to break in on his grief. But he’d rather iron the blouses of his deceased wife, Bee, “as a way of reconnecting with her when she was so irrevocably gone” than date any of the women now scurrying in his direction. Bee, on her deathbed, had predicted this fate: “Look at you. They’ll be crawling out of the woodwork.”

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+1: I prefer this to suitress, which is obscure and would likely not be understood by the average speaker. –  Robusto Apr 10 '12 at 12:36
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For the record, I'd opt for "female suitor" over "suitress" as well − but it's still worth knowing both options exist. –  J.R. Apr 10 '12 at 13:41
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I'd go so far as to say the appropriate word now is suitor. Certainly that's what I'd use in the OP's example. –  Marthaª Apr 10 '12 at 14:25
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@Martha, except that most dictionary definitions of suitor specify a man. –  JLG Apr 10 '12 at 15:52
    
I like "female suitor". Thanks!. +1 –  Bidella Apr 11 '12 at 22:45
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It may be a bit of a dated term, but suitress would be the female equivalent.

(I'm not sure about the collective noun, though. Instead of "a host of suitresses," you might want to use bevy instead).

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Thanks for your response. I'll try using "suitress" and see if I can "revive" the term. Or just fall back on "suitor". –  Bidella Apr 11 '12 at 22:46
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Sounds good to me. I've never had these problems before – i.e., I've never had a bevy of suitresses vying for my attention, so I never had to figure out what to call them, either. –  J.R. Apr 12 '12 at 1:32
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I don't think this will work out.

Being a 'suitor' is a male prerogative. It's a relic of an era when men were the ones who went out to look for wives and women stayed at home waiting for men to ask for their hand (hands?).

So being technically correct here would not make much sense.

It's somewhat like the word 'temptress'. Traditionally this is the role of a woman. To call a man a 'tempter' just doesn't taste quite the same. That's assuming that you roll the words around on your tongue before saying them.

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I prefer the "suitrix" portmanteau (suit with the 'rix' affixed morpheme). Not as forced as 'suitress,' gives more of an aura of agency, power.

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Suitrix does not appear in reputable online dictionaries. (onelook.com/?w=suitrix&ls=a) The presumption is always that someone looking for a word is looking for a known word, unless they specifically say they want help coining a new word. –  MετάEd May 7 '13 at 14:41
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If you want to give the impression of aggressive females, then the "female suitor" term fits.

I think that "admirer" could work in many situations where you don't want to necessarily indicate aggressiveness.

"He had a bevy of admirers eagerly awaiting his favour."

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Still make use of the word suitors for women who are about to propose to men (with a ring in her right hand and on her knee). It will still be okay if you use it as part of the vocabulary, trust me.

I have heard of a woman who was a superviser or boss at a school referred to as a headmaster once. More so terms like doctor, band (plural), or pilot are used interchangeably for both genders.

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