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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  • 1
    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

There must be lots...


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


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


  • 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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