It's that time of the month, your female partner has begun to fault pick you, for no explicable reason she becomes weepy, and anything you say or do will be criticized or misinterpreted.

Is there a word or expression for your partner or girlfriend or her behaviour?
What do you call a person who's feeling "bitchy" (note the scare quotes) due to their mood swings?

Please, no vulgar, crude expressions. That would be taking the easy way out, what's more I already know those terms.

Thank you!

  • 5
    I've heard PMS used as a verb, too: “She's PMS-ing”. Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 9:59
  • 6
    I'd think "My wife"?
    – TyrantWave
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 10:23
  • 4
    @Mari-LouA, In my experience "PMSing" is used by a woman to describe herself. If used by a second party, it's intended to be both slightly catty and exculpatory ("What's up with her?" // "Oh, don't worry about it, she's just PMSing").
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 11:41
  • 13
    I think some (myself being one) find it hard that a question is being asked for a term to describe a woman who behaves in a particular way when that cluster of behaviours is exhibited by men and women. There seems to be a gender stereotype assumed in the question which feels wrong especially as such stereotypes can be so destructive. I suspect many people won't see this (and I haven't downvoted the question for that reason) but if you asked me this question in my social group I would call you out on it. Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 22:00
  • 5
    Don't call her anything .. it will be wrong whatever you say!!
    – wim
    Commented Nov 28, 2014 at 10:21

11 Answers 11



You seem a little hormonal this week. Why don't you pour a glass of red and run a bath?

You convey that your partner is 'acting up' but acknowledging it is neither person's fault — biology is biology after all and can't be helped.

  • 1
    That's a good suggestion! I don't think I would take offense, obviously the tone of voice is ultra important.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 9:54
  • 8
    Would be more than my life is worth.
    – A E
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 9:54
  • 8
    If I described my partner as "hormonal" to her face I'm pretty sure we would both be in for a very miserable night.
    – IcedDante
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 6:19
  • 2
    The flip side of saying 'it isn't your fault' is that you are saying 'you have no control over your actions' or even 'your opinion/commentary is invalid'. It really depends on the situation - if the person being referenced has accepted they have behaved in a way they wouldn't have, it shouldn't be offensive. If you are using it as a way to brush off the way their thoughts/actions, I would see it as offensive.
    – Latty
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 0:12
  • Not dv, but imho, the answer trades crudeness for a composed form of paternalistic condescenscion (take your Lafite (still a chill pill) and wash yourself); I guess it depends on tone. I also find it technically imprecise and obfuscating as the hormonal peak should be ovulation. As it stands hormonal could apply to a body builder, to a man or a woman at andropause/menopause, or even to a fetus.
    – user98955
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 23:16

Bearing in mind your specific request for non-vulgar terms, and being concerned with my own health and safety, the most commonly used words I use to address my better half when she is in such a state would be


This is one of the rules to be found in the Handbook for the Married Man, the invaluable standard work that is traditionally only handed to men after they get married. It is the same work that advises against honest answers to questions that start with does this ..., and explains the possible meanings of nothing in response to “what's the matter?”. The latter is a chapter that many of us men never get to fully comprehend, though.

  • 12
    LOL! LOL! LOL! Oh, thank you! I'm drying my tears of mirth and delight.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 7:54
  • Your answer was a delight, but it didn't contain the language vocabulary I was looking for. On the bright side, I knew you'd be getting the populist gold badge. So congratulations!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 20:55
  • A nice answer, but hardly appropriate to this question on ELU. Commented Apr 21, 2022 at 14:41

"Grumpy." I do not ever call my wife a bitch, or even say that the is acting like one. I would definitely not call her bitchy. I might, while using one of oerkelens' terms of endearment, tell her, "You seem grumpy." If that does not express the idea accurately, I might say "especially grumpy."


out-of-sorts is both accurate and not gender-specific. I think what gets up my nose the most is the assumption that my mood must necessarily mirror my hormone levels. Most times my mood is proportional to the amount of assitude in the air. ;)


I wonder if the OP wanted a word to describe this female partner, rather than a term of endearment to placate them?

I think a great word to describe somebody who is being unreasonable because of the way they are feeling is "Prickly."

Google defines prickly as "ready to take offence" which seems to fit quite well.


This isn't menstruation specific or even gender specific, but the term we use is either "cranky" or the slightly more humorous "cranky-pants". It's a non-inflammatory way of either asking or stating that there's something bothering you/them which isn't related to the other party and allows for comedic exchanges.

"I think you really need to change your pants."
"What? Why?"
"You clearly have a crank in them."


Is there a word or expression for your partner or girlfriend or her behaviour? What do you call a woman who's feeling "bitchy"?

Why look for a word for a woman who acts that way or feels that way? Isn't what you want a word for that behavior or that feeling? What is the point of trying to see behind the behavior or feeling to biology?

Sure, biology underlies the feelings and behavior of all of us - all of our feelings and all of our behavior - but in complex ways. Even "simple" hormones are extremely complex critters doing complex things. And individuals and their bodies and behavior vary tremendously.

The question smacks of asking about people of African ancestry being specially good at athletics or music. We really don't need this simplistic kind of stereotyping anymore.

But is my answer an answer to the question and not just a comment? I think so - here is my answer:

Rephrase your question to ask for words that describe the particular behavior or feeling that you have in mind (even that will not be so easy to describe clearly, I think you'll find out). Forget about trying to bring women and ovulation cycles into the question - that's not helpful, IMHO.

You will anyway note, I think, that the most helpful answers so far describe the behavior or feeling, and have nothing to do with women in particular.

Just one opinion...

  • 2
    The question also says: It's that time of the month... And PMS is a reality, not for all women but that doesn't mean it's some type of urban myth. For some the symptoms may last only a day or two, for others it can last up a week. Some women are more fortunate and never experience any change in their moods. Nevertheless I appreciate your honesty, and I respect your opinion.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 18:47
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA: Whatever the cause(s) of the behavior/feelings, I think the reasonable question is about characterizing the latter, not linking it to causes. No one has denied the reality of PMS. If you are grouchy, bitchy,... because of your ovulation cycle - alone or in combination with other factors, and if I act/feel similarly for different reasons, it is the behavior/feelings that count. How can describing behavior/feelings necessarily implicate a particular cause? I don't think such symptoms reflect accurately a single such influence. And if they do, I'm unaware of a word that captures that.
    – Drew
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 21:23
  • 1
    I think most of the answers given apply equally to men having their period. So I don't see any gender based stereotyping.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 17:14
  • @oerkelens AFAIK men don't menstruate. What are you talking about re: men and periods?
    – TylerH
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 20:53
  • 1
    Asserting that it's answer doesn't make it so :-)
    – user63230
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 21:50

I use "grouchy", meaning ill-tempered. My partner never objected to it, and she sometimes uses the term herself

From Dictionary.com:

  1. sullenly discontented; sulky; morose; ill-tempered.

Well, literally the noun associated with 'bitchy' would be 'bitch'. But I don't think either will do anything other than exacerbate the situation.

So fluffy wuffly snuggle snookums or some other disgustingly nauseatingly cute name that causes her to crack a smirk with how ludicrous it is.

Either that or 'grumpy ratbag'.


A look at this posting titled Most-hated pet names for female partners revealed (also discussed at Wordwizard.com) should prove instructive regarding both the most desired and most undesired ways to address one's female beloved (if one is fortunate enough still to have one).

20 most hated

  1. Babe
  2. Sweet cheeks
  3. Snookums
  4. Baby doll
  5. Baby girl
  6. Muffin
  7. Ducky
  8. Baby cakes
  9. Sexy pants
  10. Pudding
  11. Muffin
  12. Angel pie
  13. Pumpkin
  14. Puppy
  15. Sugar lips
  16. Treacle
  17. Baby
  18. Pickle
  19. Honeybun
  20. Sugar pie

20 most acceptable

  1. Gorgeous
  2. Beautiful
  3. Lovely
  4. Love
  5. Darling
  6. Honey
  7. Sexy
  8. Angel
  9. Dearest
  10. Precious
  11. Treasure
  12. Snowflake
  13. Blossom
  14. Sweetie Pie
  15. Sexy legs
  16. Lover
  17. Buttercup
  18. Flower
  19. Princess
  20. Sweetness

Consult — and adopt/adapt — at your own risk. (I notice some unfortunate conflicts with Oerkelens' list of the words that he uses with his own — um — better half.)

  • 3
    Possibly pumpkin especially if she's sensitive about her weight. :P
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 8:09
  • 1
    Somehow, now, I feel like working late tonight... very late.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 8:12
  • 2
    @oerkelens - In extreme cases, it may be wise to follow the maxim "Better never than late".
    – Erik Kowal
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 8:18

The word you are describing is actually, premenstrual.

  • 1
    Probably the down-voter was saying premenstrual wouldn't be a term used by a partner, or perhaps they object to labelling or describing a woman according to her cycle. I don't consider it a bad answer as such, and it's neither vulgar nor coarse. +1 from me.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 15:48

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