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What's the feminine version of womanizer?

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I don't suppose womanizess is what you’re looking for. :) –  tchrist May 27 '12 at 17:35
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I don't agree that bitch would be a very good candidate. When used to describe a woman (mind you, some consider this an offensive term), it's used to denote a quick temper and irritable demeanor, more so than the female equivalent of womanizer. (I realize you're asking for better alternatives, but I just wanted to mention that I don't think bitch fits.) –  J.R. May 27 '12 at 18:22
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You would think that a skirt-chaser, being a lover of women (or Highlanders :), would be said to engage in philogyny, but instead he’s known as a philanderer (< Greek ϕίλανδρος) — which while at first glance would be just the word you’re looking for, certainly is not. Would flirt or coquette work better for you, or do you need something wicked? The OED says that in early use, being a vamp was a notion that “ranged widely from gallantry, wantonness, or immodesty, to pretty pertness”. –  tchrist May 27 '12 at 21:50
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Your title and question are a bit contradictory. Reading the title, I inferred that the question was a man womanizes a female so what do you call a female that womanizes a male. However, the question implies what is a woman that womanizes; I wasn't aware that womanizing was gender specific. As opposed to (what the title led me to believe the question was)... manizing? –  Gary May 28 '12 at 5:47
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@Jodrell: The correct English spelling for english is English ;) –  Gorpik May 28 '12 at 10:09
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10 Answers 10

up vote 60 down vote accepted

Man-eater and vamp are a little bit "slangy" compared to

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

Per Neil's comment to the question itself, bitch isn't really relevant to the meanings involved here.

Per comments/discussion below, it's probably impossible to come up with a "feminine version of womanizer" that only switches the gender without implying other differences. Language reflects social attitudes, biology, etc., so even a structurally trivial distinction such as seducer/seductress unavoidably entails gender-based preconceptions that OP is probably seeking to avoid.

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To me, one of the key facets of a womanizer is that he has relations with many women. Although seductress fits in some ways, couldn't it also be used to describe a woman who pursues a man on only one occasion? –  Cameron May 27 '12 at 20:32
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@Cameron: I think that would be a somewhat sexist interpretation - would you call a man who only pursued one woman on one occasion a womaniser? Of course not. So why label a woman by "one-time-only" behaviour? Real seductresses often make a career of it as golddiggers –  FumbleFingers May 27 '12 at 22:45
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I see your point, but I don't think it would be out of place to describe a woman who has seduced a man, even just once, as a seductress. If a man seduced a woman only once, I wouldn't call him a womanizer, but I would certainly call him a seducer, so I don't think it's a particularly sexist interpretation. –  Cameron May 27 '12 at 23:06
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I prefer man-eater to seductress. A seductress is merely good at creating sexual desire in men. A man-eater uses men for her own desires without much care for any harm she may be doing to the men. This is more analogous to womanizer than the other options are. –  Old Pro May 28 '12 at 1:28
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Seductress still doesn't ring right to me. A womanizer is one who engages in numerous casual sexual affairs with women, while a seductress is a woman who seduces someone, esp. one who entices a man into sexual activity (NOAD). A serial nature is implied with the former word, not necessarily so in the latter. Not that this word isn't a good one to consider – it is – but if I saw "man : womanizer :: woman : seductress" as the answer on a standardized test, I'd vehemently vote to throw the question out ~ which goes to show how hard it is to find just the right word. Great question. –  J.R. May 28 '12 at 12:25
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Man-eater is one term sometimes used.

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According to Wikipedia Man-eater is something else ;) –  user21619 May 27 '12 at 17:38
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Yes, as a biological term it means something else. Sometimes words have more than one meaning. Shocking fact: Wikipedia doesn't contain all of the knowledge in the universe. –  Neil Coffey May 27 '12 at 17:40
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@HaLaBi Their definition includes cougars… –  Potatoswatter May 28 '12 at 2:39
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Based on my limited experience as non-native speaker, man-eater sounds somewhat more disparaging than *womanizer". But it is nevertheless the best option I see. –  Gorpik May 28 '12 at 10:59
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@Gorpik: You're correct that man-eater is a bit more disparaging than womaniser; it implies predatory as well as sexual. However, it's probably as close as you can get. Gender biases in English mean that there often isn't an exact equivalent. –  Tynam May 28 '12 at 13:54
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You could say vamp.

"A woman who attracts men sexually, then seduces and exploits them" (Chambers)

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One problem with vamp is that a significant part of the meaning is that she is using her sexuality to gain non-sexual benefits. –  mgkrebbs May 27 '12 at 19:41
    
@mgkrebbs. My dictionary (Websters 2nd edition) has "A woman who uses her charms .. to gain admiration or attention from the opposite sex." No mention of exploitation. –  Bobbi Bennett May 27 '12 at 21:57
    
@mgkrebbs: I checked a few dictionaries – I couldn't find any mention of "non-sexual benefits", although I did find the notion of "exploiting" a man to "get what she wants." But, when you get right down to it, isn't that also what a womanizer does? –  J.R. May 28 '12 at 1:50
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@J.R. "How can men possibly use sex to get what we want? Sex is what we want!" Dr Frasier Crane. –  TimLymington Dec 5 '12 at 22:43
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Wanton is probably the closest term. Dictionary.com define the word as "a lascivious person, especially a woman." There's a good discussion on "What is the female equivalent of 'philanderer'? on Quora, and it explores the complex nuances involved in comparing the sexes in this regard.

Personally, I like female Don Juan, a term applied to Carla Bruni in a recent biography. The term coveys a sense of direct power and control that is typically is missing in describing women who have multiple sexual partners.

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Not too sure that Doña Juana would work for most people. –  tchrist May 27 '12 at 22:53
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@tchrist: Donna Juanita? –  J.R. May 28 '12 at 1:44
    
@J.R. Don Juan & Doña Juanita vs Don Giovanni & Donna (whatever the female Italian is for Giovanni) –  tchrist May 28 '12 at 1:49
    
@tchrist -- "Juana" and "Giovanna", respectively are the female forms in Spanish and Italian. –  Malvolio May 29 '12 at 10:37
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One that comes to mind is man-chaser. Another common slang term with a similar meaning is boy-crazy, though it doesn't have the same sexual connotation.

A natural follow-up question is, "why is there no such word as manizer?" There is a language log post that discusses the coinage of this word, with the main argument against manizer being the awkwardness of the monosyllabic root with the -ize suffix. The comments suggest a number of interesting alternatives.

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Given that hay men can certainly be boy-crazy — and often are :) — I wonder whether gay women can be womanizers? –  tchrist May 27 '12 at 23:44
    
@tchrist: the OED would infer so, via its parenthetical statement: A person (typically a man) who engages in casual sexual or romantic encounters with women –  J.R. May 28 '12 at 13:02
    
@J.R. "casual .. encounters" - that seems a bit kind to me. I think womaniser definitely carries connotations of exploitation or manipulation. Or maybe just a level of emotional detachment. I'm aware I'm arguing with the OED here, not you. –  Robin Winslow Nov 19 '13 at 14:47
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'Siren' carries a connotation that the object of her attractions is doomed to disaster.

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I suggest "loose woman" as an alternative to the very derogatory term "slut." Although "loose woman" also carries a sermonizing attitude, neither is such an implication entirely absent from "womanizer." The latter is certainly not a term of praise.

Were it not for the usual sexual asymmetry present in our language and culture, "loose man" would be a reasonable synonym for "womanizer."

I also agree with the suggestion above that "man-chaser" is a good equivalent, and probably better than "loose woman."

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Please excuse me if you find these terms profane but, my grandmother would refer to woman who chases men as a slut, although this is sometimes used to describe a girl as dirty or messy. I do recall a man using the term to describe another who was especially open and active in his choice of bedfellows.

I've often heard the rather coarse term slag used as slang but I would suggest this reflects negatively on the user.

I assume these both share a common route with the old fashoined term slattern which in turn leads me to consider harlot, brazen hussy or trollop.

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And note how all of them have negative connotations, unlike the term “womaniser” which, if anything, has a positive (admiring) note. Which really says a lot about our society … –  Konrad Rudolph May 28 '12 at 8:49
    
@KonradRudolph, totally agree, all these terms are traditioanlly derogatory and while womanizing is not necessarily encouraged it is often deemed more acceptible. Certainly in eighteenth century england women were still burned at the stake for Petit Treason. A history I found truly bizarre for a "civilized" society, not dissimilar to contemporary stonings. papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1519461 –  Jodrell May 28 '12 at 9:03
    
Nothing wrong with slag - in the UK its an often-used term although more as vernacular than in high-falutin' circles. In the US I understand the equivalent is ho, a truncation of whorewhich again in the UK is still in use amongst people of a certain age and social class. –  5arx May 28 '12 at 9:29
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@Konrad: Slut is in fact often the word that comes to mind; the double-standard you mention has been a point of contention for some time. From Wikipedia: Feminism has traditionally argued that there is a significant double standard between how men and women are judged for promiscuity. Historically, stereotypes of the promiscuous woman have tended to be negative, such as "the slut", while male stereotypes have been more varied, some expressing approval, such as "the stud", while others imply societal deviance, such as "a womanizer". –  J.R. May 28 '12 at 12:30
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@J.R. I’m not sure what you mean by “point of contention”. Surely the argument is more or less universal in modern societies, not just among feminists? –  Konrad Rudolph May 28 '12 at 12:51
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floozy

A girl or a woman who has a reputation for promiscuity.

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What about wench?

wench (wnch) n. 1. A young woman or girl, especially a peasant girl. 2. A woman servant. 3. A wanton woman. intr.v. wenched, wench·ing, wench·es To consort or engage in sex with wanton women. Used of a man.

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Wench, historically, marks standing rather than behaviour. –  StoneyB Nov 5 '12 at 3:27
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Expand your answer with a dictionary definition instead of adding junk to reach the 30 character limit. –  coleopterist Nov 5 '12 at 4:43
    
Even to the extent that wench does imply sexual behaviour, it ties that behaviour implicitly to the lower classes. Womaniser, on the other hand, is quite likely to be applied to more upper class men. –  Robin Winslow Nov 19 '13 at 15:00
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protected by RegDwigнt May 27 '12 at 17:38

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