Oxford defines alpha male as:

A man tending to assume a dominant or domineering role in social or professional situations

It doesn't define alpha female at all.

Since alpha female isn't a standard term, (despite being widely used,) I'm looking for an alternative.

What is a good way to describe

A woman or a girl tending to assume a dominant or domineering role in social or professional situations

This term

  • should not have negative connotations (any more than alpha male has)
  • preferably shouldn't be applicable to men.
  • 4
    Like similar word requests here in the past, you'll be hard pressed to find a completely equivalent term, because our culture does not treat genders equivalently. May 22, 2015 at 12:02
  • 4
    'Alpha female' is perfectly fine, if you really must use such cliches.
    – Mitch
    May 22, 2015 at 12:25
  • Mitch -- cliché? what are you talking about? it's a completely normal scientific term.
    – Fattie
    May 22, 2015 at 12:35
  • 1
    Tushar - reading your question, your use of "alpha female" (and indeed "alpha male") seems whacky. Read some articles on, you know, animal studies or whatever. this is becoming one of those ridiculous questions. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pack_(canine) (plus any of another billion uses of "alpha female")
    – Fattie
    May 22, 2015 at 12:38
  • 2
    I really do not understand the antipathy against this reasonable question. It is similar to "female version of Don Juan", and questions like these are reasonable question to pop up as the standard, traditional role patterns in many English speaking cultures are shifting and thus the need arises for female expressions indicating traditionally "male" behaviour.
    – oerkelens
    May 23, 2015 at 9:30

3 Answers 3


An option might be queen bee.

I've heard it in a recent song being used as "leader of the pack, independent woman in charge of everyone around her".

ODO defines it as:

informal A woman who has a dominant or controlling position in a particular group or sphere:
_Sarah was the queen bee of the Society circuit.

In the song Royals by Lorde, the expression is used as follows:

Let me be your ruler (ruler)
You can call me queen bee
And baby I'll rule, I'll rule, I'll rule, I'll rule
Let me live that fantasy

(Lyrics from MetroLyrics)

  • 1
    Good one. Upvote. Are you sure this isn't a pejorative? Take a look at the related words in your link.
    – Tushar Raj
    May 22, 2015 at 12:02
  • 4
    It is often used in a pejorative sense; my guess is that any female version of alpha male will have negative connotations in any society were this kind of behavior is more expected/accepted from men than from women. However, it is not exclusively pejorative and at the same time, alpha male also has negative connotations.
    – oerkelens
    May 22, 2015 at 12:07
  • I know. It's a sad state. I'm aware of the alpha male connotations, that's why I mentioned in the post: "any more than alpha male has"
    – Tushar Raj
    May 22, 2015 at 12:11
  • Well, the any more is probably unavoidable as a result of culture, not of language. Look at the question(s) looking for a female equivalent of "Don Juan", and you will find the same problems with cultural bias.
    – oerkelens
    May 22, 2015 at 12:17

In matriarchal animal societies (elephants, e.g.), the leading female is typically referred to as, well, the

Matriarch [google definition]: a woman who is the head of a family or tribe.

In more modern slang, I've begun to hear powerful women in a group refer to themselves (jocularly) as the:

HBIC [Urban Dictionary]: The Head Bitch In Charge is a woman with unquestioned authority and gets what she wants whenever she wants it.

  • 2
    Matriach is really good. But somehow I doubt the OP will approve of " Head Bitch In Charge", if alpha female isn't official enough:). Altough it did give me a laugh:)
    – laurisvr
    May 22, 2015 at 11:59
  • 1
    @Hehe yeah, it gave me a laugh:) What would be the male equivalent? Head prat in charge?
    – laurisvr
    May 22, 2015 at 12:00
  • 2
    HBIC is derogatory, and I don't think matriarch can be used for someone who isn't a mother. Additionally, it has connotations of age. Sorry, but these don't work :(
    – Tushar Raj
    May 22, 2015 at 12:01
  • 2
    @Tushar I think it can be used in a metaphorical sense. MW defines matriarch as: a woman who controls a family, group, or government. I doubt you're gonna find a better word out ther.
    – laurisvr
    May 22, 2015 at 12:03
  • 2
    I hadn't thought much about the term, but then I got involved with a big African family whose de facto head was not the "patriarch" but one of the daughters. Petite, no trees knocked over. The Princess, as everyone called her reverently (not as in "JAP"), is a humungous networker, for the good of the family, stray cats adopted like me, and pretty much everybody. People do what she tells them, she has natural leadership, authority, perhaps even a reality distortion field. If we cannot use the term "alpha" for her, I don't know when we can. It's how I felt it – I had to obey my Alpha.
    – David Pugh
    May 22, 2015 at 15:20

An amazon may suggest the idea:

  • a tall, powerful, forceful woman.

The Free Dictionary

  • 1
    This almost always refers to physical stature or appearance, rather than social or professional role.
    – recognizer
    May 22, 2015 at 15:20

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