In referring to a particular femme fatale, I described her "femme fataleness."

That is "ungrammatical" (I believe) but got the point across.

Is there a correct term for this particular attribute? If so, what is it?

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    Well, you wouldn't want to use the usual nominalization; few women are likely to be charmed to be used as examples of femme fatality. – John Lawler Feb 20 '15 at 16:25
  • @JohnLawler: Actually, my audience was a group of women, who applauded my comments (except the offender). It was a case of "all against one." – Tom Au Feb 20 '15 at 16:26
  • Or perhaps keep it (quasi-)French with femme fatalisme. – Sven Yargs Feb 20 '15 at 18:23
  • One of my favourite terms comes to mind: "slightly unhinged", which has some overlap femme fatale. – Martin Krzywinski Feb 20 '15 at 23:38
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    Generally speaking, 'calamitous womanliness,' 'death-bringing matronliness' and 'doom-laden femininity' will also win few friends. – Erik Kowal Feb 23 '15 at 7:35

Perhaps "Her femme fatale quality?" I can't think of a shorter way of saying this.

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  • Not bad. An upvote. You (indirectly) suggested another one: "femme fatality." – Tom Au Feb 20 '15 at 16:27

Whilst not quite underlining some of the particular qualities of a femme fatale, the word "allure" can be used to refer to those qualities of a person that contribute to her "femme fataleness" as in:

"Her sensuous beauty coupled with a certain cunning were her allure"

Noun 4. fascination; charm; appeal.

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    Seductiveness also. [beauty, seductiveness, independence, sterility and death... (femme fatale qualities listed in the book "Four French Symbolists")) – ermanen Feb 21 '15 at 2:16

It's a French construction in which the noun is femme and fatale is an adjective; so strictly speaking the derivation should be applied to femme. Regrettably, however, French appears to have no derivative meaning the "quality of being a woman".

Applying a derivation after translation to fatal woman would give you fatal womanhood, which somehow lacks the necessary pizzaz.

I think your best bet is to regard femme fatale as an English fixed phrase whose final {e} is merely an orthographic residue of its origin. That will give you your own tongue-in-cheek derivative femme fatality. I really don't think it gets any better than that.

  • Actually I believe "femme fatality" came from me (see my comment to David Garner). John Lawler's comment was amended after the fact. – Tom Au Feb 20 '15 at 17:54
  • And I've only just realized you're OP. 'Doh! ... but I still think it's the best choice open to you. – StoneyB on hiatus Feb 22 '15 at 18:19

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