I wanted to add a suffix to crone and damsel that would make them masculine without resorting to a male equivalent word, (that's a different question.)

We have the male-to-female conversion example of bachelor → ‎bachelorette

Is there a reverse suffix for traditionally feminine words?

Croner and damseler (following widower ← widow) seems lacking.

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    So you are looking for female forms of words like crone and damsel which have only ever been used to specifically describe women? Good luck, there don't seem to be any productive suffixes for such things, and I don't expect them to appear any time soon with the world moving away from using such gender-stereotyping words in general. I am wondering what a male damsel or crone would be for instance, the concept of damsel or crone being largely linked to a society in which no man could have such a role.
    – oerkelens
    Dec 10, 2017 at 18:03
  • For a male counterpart to "damsel", see here: What is the male equivalent of “damsel”? There is no suffix that I know of. In French, -et is a masculine suffix (as in the word "valet"); -ette is the corresponding feminine suffix.
    – herisson
    Dec 10, 2017 at 18:06
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    I have never heard of bachelorette. IFAIK the equivalent word is spinster. Dec 10, 2017 at 18:28
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    This is a fool's errand, I'm afraid. Bachelorette is not a spinster. It's a single woman who has not yet married. I believe the Am TV series may have coined the term.....I like genderizing. I use actress and not actor. And by the way, bachelorette is not a male-to-female conversion. What a thought. That is a transexual, in English....
    – Lambie
    Dec 10, 2017 at 19:32
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    @AndrewLeach I’m with the Guardian Style Guide on Actor. theguardian.com/guardian-observer-style-guide-a
    – Spagirl
    Dec 10, 2017 at 20:54

2 Answers 2


Historically, there are very few words where the male version is derived from the female. For example, A junior English grammar (1902) lists four: bridegroom, drake, gander, and widower (but OED does not support the claim that drake and gander were formed this way).

You already mentioned widower, so let's look at bridegroom. According to OED, it was formed from brýd + guma. The word bride is obviously still in use, but guma is not. In Middle English it was spelled gome. According to OED:

After gome n.1 became obsolete in Middle English, the place of bridegome was taken in 16th cent. by bridegrome , < grome , groom n.1 ‘lad’.

Because gome is obsolete, as is the sense of groom meaning "lad", it's not a great choice.

However, there is another option (not a suffix though) not mentioned by that source. The prefix man- is used in several compounds, for example:

(Note that some of these compounds can be written as closed or hyphenated too.)

Interestingly enough, there are some instances already out there for the words you mentioned:

We haven't seen each other for a couple of years. I am a man-crone.
Hal Crawford on Twitter

Still, though, doesn’t the crone get pent up? Who gets the crone’s rocks off? Does she find a man-crone for that?
The Road by Anna Bardin

It’s got Brandon Flowers as a man-damsel in distress
The Music Video for Brandon Flowers’s “Crossfire” Has Got EVERYTHING

Eugene is mincing away from a small gang of three walkers, a Man-Damsel In Distress.
barnfullawalkers: The Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 5, “Self Help”

Yet another option may be to look for synonyms, where the word doesn’t have an etymological connection. Some resources for the words you listed are:

  • A man crone is a curmudgeon, no?
    – Lambie
    Dec 10, 2017 at 19:32
  • Aside: "harridan" is gender specific, but is "dotard"? Dec 10, 2017 at 19:36

I know that -Tor indicates a male while -trix denotes female.-Ette is french if I remember...

It appears that in the native french the masculine is -et and the feminine is -ette. Both meaning a smaller form of something else, for example a Cigarette is a smaller cigar. At some point English seemed to pick it up as a term meaning a feminine version of something else as well.

  • References would improve this answer. Apr 11, 2020 at 7:18

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