In the English language, what are the right terms for a female wolf and a female owl; perhaps "she wolf" and "owl hen"?

Are there distinct or separate words in English used for feminine? I checked in Wikipedia +other websites but found only "she-wolf" and "owl-hen".

  • 2
    The word for a female dog is bitch. My guess is that this would be the word for a female wolf, except for a reluctance to use the word bitch.
    – ab2
    Nov 11 '18 at 13:40
  • 3
    It's not exactly an everyday collocation, but a female owl would normally be called be a hen owl, not an owl hen. Nov 11 '18 at 14:05
  • 4
    Oxford Dictionaries says: "bitch NOUN 1A female dog, wolf, fox, or otter." Nov 11 '18 at 16:20
  • 1
    @MichaelHarvey - books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – user 66974
    Nov 11 '18 at 19:35
  • 1
    Ngrams are useful, but not the law. Nov 11 '18 at 21:23

You used to have wolfess, now an archaic term. She-wolf or female wolf are the terms commonly used:

Wolfess, the medieval term for a she-wolf, is now rarely used in Present Day English except to mean a woman that is sexually aggressive.

(Studies in Linguistic Variation and Change: From Old to Middle English)

Female owl is the more common term as far as owl is concerned; “hen owl” appears to be a more informal expression.

  • 1
    Incidentally, tigress is still in use.
    – Joshua
    Nov 11 '18 at 20:16
  • @Joshua Isn't tigress mostly used metaphorically?
    – gerrit
    Nov 11 '18 at 23:05
  • @gerrit: Yeah, quite a lot. But it's also used literally.
    – Joshua
    Nov 11 '18 at 23:47

The problem with the words you are looking for (as seen with the answer bitch for a female dog) is that those words are normally assigned to husbanded animals.

Hen / rooster, cow / bull, mare / stallion, etc.

Edit: Adding a generic 'ess' is the equivalent of saying 'female of' and in this case your best options seem to be 'she wolf' or 'wolfess' and 'hen owl'


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