1

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?

  • 4
    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
  • 1
    Generally speaking, 'calamitous womanliness,' 'death-bringing matronliness' and 'doom-laden femininity' will also win few friends. – Erik Kowal Feb 23 '15 at 7:35
3

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

|improve this answer|||||
  • Not bad. An upvote. You (indirectly) suggested another one: "femme fatality." – Tom Au Feb 20 '15 at 16:27
1

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.

|improve this answer|||||
  • 1
    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
1

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

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.