I was trying to think of a word to describe a female acquaintance and came up with arrogant, but immediately wanted to discard this as the word itself felt masculine to me.

I later settled on deluded (which for this individual is more appropriate) but I was wondering whether there was a solid reason for my opinion. I would be keen to know if there is anything aside from perhaps my connotations of the people I would describe as arrogant, the pig-headed co-workers or stereotypical jocks who, from personal experience at least, are predominantly male.

I appreciate this may be erring on the side of opinion, but to be clear I am asking specifically if there is any objective reason, perhaps the origin of the word or some such. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary it derives from the Latin arrogare, but found nothing gender-specific, and have rarely come across people using it day-to-day to describe women.

closed as primarily opinion-based by tchrist, Zairja, Drew, Misti, Matt Gutting Jan 30 '15 at 20:51

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Haughty comes to mind – mplungjan Jan 29 '15 at 10:57
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    Let us know if you looked up the word, its meaning, etymology, usage, etc., and what you have found. – Kris Jan 29 '15 at 12:36
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    Do not use nGrams exclusively to draw inferences. – Kris Jan 29 '15 at 12:40
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    (Though note that it may be that both my impression and the OP's is drawn from the fact that arrogance is less well tolerated in women, in today's society, and hence the attribute tends to be suppressed or disquised.) – Hot Licks Jan 29 '15 at 13:07
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    In fact the same behaviour in a man might be described as confident and in a woman as arrogant -- research not the best example I've seen but the best i could find today. – Chris H Jan 29 '15 at 13:08

Arrogant is really one of those gender-neutral adjectives. It can describe anybody, one of whose properties is arrogance, regardless male or female. (On a lighter note: I am sure you can encounter real life examples of arrogant ladies in due course of time... :))

In other words:
The word arrogant is only as masculine as the words elegant/beautiful/charismatic/etc. are feminine.

It's just popular usage and convention that probably drives you to think of these words as gender-specific.

  • This is a Handsome vs Pretty discussion in my opinion. – mplungjan Jan 29 '15 at 15:49

Arrogant is definitely gender-neutral. Although you may have heard/seen it used with a male pronoun more often, that is only due to an unfortunate stereotype. As noted by prgSRR, women are perfectly capable of being arrogant as well. Arrogant is defined by the New American Oxford Dictionary as:

arrogant (adjective): having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one's own importance or abilities

As you can see, no gender is specified. Although it is worth mentioning that the example given in the dictionary is:

he's arrogant and opinionated

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    It's possible that the dictionary used the stereotype in its example to make that example easier to assimilate: not upsetting people's received perceptions (a.k.a. prejudices) makes what one has to say less distracting. – Erik Kowal Jan 29 '15 at 13:17
  • @ErikKowal Agreed! Good point. – McB Jan 29 '15 at 13:18

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