Is there a single word conjuring up the image of an intelligent woman? I am not looking for a gendered form such as "sagess", "luminaress", etc.

Whereas there are words specifically describing women such as "termagant", "virago", and "tart", I'd like a noun that describes a woman as intelligent.

I am also open to an allusion, like the way "Amazon" alludes to a strong woman. An example of this is "Athena", but it doesn't sound as natural to me as "Amazon" does in describing a person.

  • 1
    Athena, Greek goddess of Wisdom. Or any other wise woman from the pantheon or broader mythology, though they all come with additional shades of meaning, good and bad. Circe was a powerful sorceress, but had a short fuse. Cassandra could accurately see the future, but no one ever believed her pronouncements, until it was too late.
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 14, 2017 at 23:48
  • @DanBron I like Athena, but I also want to see if there are any words in the English language that accomplish my purpose. Mar 15, 2017 at 1:05
  • What about oracle?
    – jerry
    Mar 15, 2017 at 1:06
  • ...wicce, or the more commonly used term wicca - respectively the feminine and masculine versions - commonly refer to a religion now (modern paganism), but the term itself is said to have meant "wise woman" originally. It may be difficult to use without that connotation nowadays unless the context is very clear, or the association or potential confusion with the religion, is helpful.
    – Megha
    Mar 15, 2017 at 1:35
  • 1
    General note: Please do not answer this question with a question ("What about...?") Be bold. Answer the question definitively. Show why you are suggesting your word.
    – Andrew Leach
    Dec 3, 2017 at 8:53

5 Answers 5


What about oracle?

It's lost some gender specificity, but still has a definite feminine association. It also has a mystical undertone, but implies wisdom (or at least special knowledge). From Merriam-Webster:

a person giving wise or authoritative decisions or opinions

  • Thank you! For the record, Dan Bron's suggestions of using the names of goddesses is my runner up choice. Mar 15, 2017 at 2:37

This question begs another: Why would an intelligent person need to genderize a label for intelligence?

An awkward contrivance you could possibly force (say, luminaress) but to do so you'll be swimming against the great modern tide to eliminate genderized forms. (Ask any actor or waiter, just to start.)

  • 3
    Sorry, I can't help it, the pedantic goblin that lives under my bed is forcing me to say it or he'll gnaw off my toes: raises the question.
    – Dan Bron
    Mar 15, 2017 at 0:48
  • Edited question--I am not looking for a gendered form of a word. Mar 15, 2017 at 1:04
  • 1
    @borrascador I understand that you're not looking for something like sage -> sagess, but your question suggests that a term that includes men (like sage) would not be acceptable. By definition, that means you're looking for a gendered form.
    – Lawrence
    Mar 15, 2017 at 2:22
  • @Lawrence Thank you for your comment. To be clear, I am looking for a word that implies gender (e.g. tarmagant, doola), not the gendered form of a word that is genderless to begin with (sagess is such a word, and an ugly one at that). Mar 15, 2017 at 2:35

Minerva (original Latin spelling; Menerva) - A wise woman. Italian goddess of handicrafts, identified with the Greek goddess Athena. Possibly from the roots, men " to think", Latin meminī “ remember,” Greek Méntōr "adviser"


Eminence? So I'm looking back at dates and see this is really old. So I hope maybe I'm still reaching someone.

  • 1
    I'm still here! Nov 16, 2017 at 14:23
  • 2
    I've been hitting reload on my browser every few minutes since March waiting for another answer!
    – jimm101
    Nov 16, 2017 at 14:56
  • I should think that "wise woman" or "intelligent woman" might be the best way to express what you're looking for. But those aren't single words.
    – tautophile
    May 17, 2018 at 6:09

The word you seek is crone—in its original form. Unfortunately, it has been reduced to only a caricature of its original meeting. This saddens me because I am needing just such an adjective to describe a lovely, wise, generous, aged, and kind-hearted woman. Saint is too trite, but crone would’ve been perfect. Alas!

  • 1
    Please add a source to support your answer.
    – JJJ
    May 17, 2018 at 1:08
  • I can't find any source for this. All I found is etymonline.com/word/crone
    – Wildcard
    Oct 11, 2018 at 2:15
  • Someone pointed me to the etymology for the surname "Crone" which does in fact share roots with "crown."
    – Wildcard
    Nov 2, 2018 at 23:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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