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What's the feminine version of womanizer?

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    I don't agree that bitch would be a very good candidate. When used to describe a woman (mind you, some consider this an offensive term), it's used to denote a quick temper and irritable demeanor, more so than the female equivalent of womanizer. (I realize you're asking for better alternatives, but I just wanted to mention that I don't think bitch fits.)
    – J.R.
    May 27, 2012 at 18:22
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    I'd say "nymphomaniac."
    – Alex B.
    May 27, 2012 at 18:59
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    You would think that a skirt-chaser, being a lover of women (or Highlanders :), would be said to engage in philogyny, but instead he’s known as a philanderer (< Greek ϕίλανδρος) — which while at first glance would be just the word you’re looking for, certainly is not. Would flirt or coquette work better for you, or do you need something wicked? The OED says that in early use, being a vamp was a notion that “ranged widely from gallantry, wantonness, or immodesty, to pretty pertness”.
    – tchrist
    May 27, 2012 at 21:50
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    Your title and question are a bit contradictory. Reading the title, I inferred that the question was a man womanizes a female so what do you call a female that womanizes a male. However, the question implies what is a woman that womanizes; I wasn't aware that womanizing was gender specific. As opposed to (what the title led me to believe the question was)... manizing?
    – Gary
    May 28, 2012 at 5:47
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    @Jodrell: The correct English spelling for english is English ;)
    – Gorpik
    May 28, 2012 at 10:09

11 Answers 11

71

Man-eater and vamp are a little bit "slangy" compared to

seductress - a woman who seduces someone, esp. one who entices a man into sexual activity

Per Neil's comment to the question itself, bitch isn't really relevant to the meanings involved here.

Per comments/discussion below, it's probably impossible to come up with a "feminine version of womanizer" that only switches the gender without implying other differences. Language reflects social attitudes, biology, etc., so even a structurally trivial distinction such as seducer/seductress unavoidably entails gender-based preconceptions that OP is probably seeking to avoid.

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    To me, one of the key facets of a womanizer is that he has relations with many women. Although seductress fits in some ways, couldn't it also be used to describe a woman who pursues a man on only one occasion?
    – Cameron
    May 27, 2012 at 20:32
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    @Cameron: I think that would be a somewhat sexist interpretation - would you call a man who only pursued one woman on one occasion a womaniser? Of course not. So why label a woman by "one-time-only" behaviour? Real seductresses often make a career of it as golddiggers May 27, 2012 at 22:45
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    I see your point, but I don't think it would be out of place to describe a woman who has seduced a man, even just once, as a seductress. If a man seduced a woman only once, I wouldn't call him a womanizer, but I would certainly call him a seducer, so I don't think it's a particularly sexist interpretation.
    – Cameron
    May 27, 2012 at 23:06
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    I prefer man-eater to seductress. A seductress is merely good at creating sexual desire in men. A man-eater uses men for her own desires without much care for any harm she may be doing to the men. This is more analogous to womanizer than the other options are.
    – Old Pro
    May 28, 2012 at 1:28
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    Seductress still doesn't ring right to me. A womanizer is one who engages in numerous casual sexual affairs with women, while a seductress is a woman who seduces someone, esp. one who entices a man into sexual activity (NOAD). A serial nature is implied with the former word, not necessarily so in the latter. Not that this word isn't a good one to consider – it is – but if I saw "man : womanizer :: woman : seductress" as the answer on a standardized test, I'd vehemently vote to throw the question out ~ which goes to show how hard it is to find just the right word. Great question.
    – J.R.
    May 28, 2012 at 12:25
44

Man-eater is one term sometimes used.

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    According to Wikipedia Man-eater is something else ;)
    – user21619
    May 27, 2012 at 17:38
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    Yes, as a biological term it means something else. Sometimes words have more than one meaning. Shocking fact: Wikipedia doesn't contain all of the knowledge in the universe. May 27, 2012 at 17:40
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    @HaLaBi Their definition includes cougars… May 28, 2012 at 2:39
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    Based on my limited experience as non-native speaker, man-eater sounds somewhat more disparaging than *womanizer". But it is nevertheless the best option I see.
    – Gorpik
    May 28, 2012 at 10:59
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    @Gorpik: You're correct that man-eater is a bit more disparaging than womaniser; it implies predatory as well as sexual. However, it's probably as close as you can get. Gender biases in English mean that there often isn't an exact equivalent.
    – Tynam
    May 28, 2012 at 13:54
19

You could say vamp.

"A woman who attracts men sexually, then seduces and exploits them" (Chambers)

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    One problem with vamp is that a significant part of the meaning is that she is using her sexuality to gain non-sexual benefits.
    – mgkrebbs
    May 27, 2012 at 19:41
  • @mgkrebbs. My dictionary (Websters 2nd edition) has "A woman who uses her charms .. to gain admiration or attention from the opposite sex." No mention of exploitation. May 27, 2012 at 21:57
  • @mgkrebbs: I checked a few dictionaries – I couldn't find any mention of "non-sexual benefits", although I did find the notion of "exploiting" a man to "get what she wants." But, when you get right down to it, isn't that also what a womanizer does?
    – J.R.
    May 28, 2012 at 1:50
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    @J.R. "How can men possibly use sex to get what we want? Sex is what we want!" Dr Frasier Crane. Dec 5, 2012 at 22:43
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One that comes to mind is man-chaser. Another common slang term with a similar meaning is boy-crazy, though it doesn't have the same sexual connotation.

A natural follow-up question is, "why is there no such word as manizer?" There is a language log post that discusses the coinage of this word, with the main argument against manizer being the awkwardness of the monosyllabic root with the -ize suffix. The comments suggest a number of interesting alternatives.

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    Given that hay men can certainly be boy-crazy — and often are :) — I wonder whether gay women can be womanizers?
    – tchrist
    May 27, 2012 at 23:44
  • @tchrist: the OED would infer so, via its parenthetical statement: A person (typically a man) who engages in casual sexual or romantic encounters with women
    – J.R.
    May 28, 2012 at 13:02
  • @J.R. "casual .. encounters" - that seems a bit kind to me. I think womaniser definitely carries connotations of exploitation or manipulation. Or maybe just a level of emotional detachment. I'm aware I'm arguing with the OED here, not you. Nov 19, 2013 at 14:47
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Wanton is probably the closest term. Dictionary.com define the word as "a lascivious person, especially a woman." There's a good discussion on "What is the female equivalent of 'philanderer'? on Quora, and it explores the complex nuances involved in comparing the sexes in this regard.

Personally, I like female Don Juan, a term applied to Carla Bruni in a recent biography. The term coveys a sense of direct power and control that is typically is missing in describing women who have multiple sexual partners.

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    Not too sure that Doña Juana would work for most people.
    – tchrist
    May 27, 2012 at 22:53
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    @tchrist: Donna Juanita?
    – J.R.
    May 28, 2012 at 1:44
  • @J.R. Don Juan & Doña Juanita vs Don Giovanni & Donna (whatever the female Italian is for Giovanni)
    – tchrist
    May 28, 2012 at 1:49
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    @tchrist -- "Juana" and "Giovanna", respectively are the female forms in Spanish and Italian. May 29, 2012 at 10:37
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I suggest "loose woman" as an alternative to the very derogatory term "slut." Although "loose woman" also carries a sermonizing attitude, neither is such an implication entirely absent from "womanizer." The latter is certainly not a term of praise.

Were it not for the usual sexual asymmetry present in our language and culture, "loose man" would be a reasonable synonym for "womanizer."

I also agree with the suggestion above that "man-chaser" is a good equivalent, and probably better than "loose woman."

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Please excuse me if you find these terms profane but, my grandmother would refer to woman who chases men as a slut, although this is sometimes used to describe a girl as dirty or messy. I do recall a man using the term to describe another who was especially open and active in his choice of bedfellows.

I've often heard the rather coarse term slag used as slang but I would suggest this reflects negatively on the user.

I assume these both share a common route with the old fashioned term slattern which in turn leads me to consider harlot, brazen hussy or trollop.

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    And note how all of them have negative connotations, unlike the term “womaniser” which, if anything, has a positive (admiring) note. Which really says a lot about our society … May 28, 2012 at 8:49
  • @KonradRudolph, totally agree, all these terms are traditioanlly derogatory and while womanizing is not necessarily encouraged it is often deemed more acceptible. Certainly in eighteenth century england women were still burned at the stake for Petit Treason. A history I found truly bizarre for a "civilized" society, not dissimilar to contemporary stonings. papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1519461
    – Jodrell
    May 28, 2012 at 9:03
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    @Konrad: Slut is in fact often the word that comes to mind; the double-standard you mention has been a point of contention for some time. From Wikipedia: Feminism has traditionally argued that there is a significant double standard between how men and women are judged for promiscuity. Historically, stereotypes of the promiscuous woman have tended to be negative, such as "the slut", while male stereotypes have been more varied, some expressing approval, such as "the stud", while others imply societal deviance, such as "a womanizer".
    – J.R.
    May 28, 2012 at 12:30
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    @J.R. I’m not sure what you mean by “point of contention”. Surely the argument is more or less universal in modern societies, not just among feminists? May 28, 2012 at 12:51
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    "I say slut is no sort of equivalent. It's entirely different in its connotations." -- A womanizer is "a promiscuous heterosexual man". It has the same denotation, with gender changed, as "slut", and thus is a "sort of equivalent".
    – Jim Balter
    Sep 13, 2014 at 21:44
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'Siren' carries a connotation that the object of her attractions is doomed to disaster.

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floozy

A girl or a woman who has a reputation for promiscuity.

0

What about wench?

wench (wnch) n. 1. A young woman or girl, especially a peasant girl. 2. A woman servant. 3. A wanton woman. intr.v. wenched, wench·ing, wench·es To consort or engage in sex with wanton women. Used of a man.

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    Wench, historically, marks standing rather than behaviour. Nov 5, 2012 at 3:27
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    Expand your answer with a dictionary definition instead of adding junk to reach the 30 character limit. Nov 5, 2012 at 4:43
  • Even to the extent that wench does imply sexual behaviour, it ties that behaviour implicitly to the lower classes. Womaniser, on the other hand, is quite likely to be applied to more upper class men. Nov 19, 2013 at 15:00
  • What about it? It obviously is not the correct answer.
    – Jim Balter
    Sep 13, 2014 at 21:44
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Slut. Slut: Disparaging and Offensive. a sexually promiscuous woman, or a woman who behaves or dresses in an overtly sexual way.

Not the nicest or most proper word, but IMO definitely the most accurate.

Promiscuous

might not be a bad choice either. Although it tends to be gender neutral, it seems to be used more commonly with reference to women.

promiscuous: Characterized by or involving indiscriminate mingling or association, especially having sexual relations with a number of partners on a casual basis.

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  • @ab2 Cougar : dictionary.com/browse/cougar Informal. an older woman who seeks sexual relationships with much younger men; much, much less insulting than calling a woman a slut that's due to gender roles, not the word.
    – Vector
    Jul 30, 2017 at 4:29
  • Why do you simply repeat what you said before, after I cited the dictionary definition of cougar, and explained the fallacy in your logic? If you want to make a meaningful contribution, refute what I said.
    – Vector
    Jul 30, 2017 at 5:44
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    slut was already here, but promiscuous wasn't. - cougar denotes old age, and from what I've been told, there's no worse way (other than "fat") to describe a woman. If I were a cougar, I think I'd take slut as a compliment, way before I was cool with you calling me a cougar.
    – Mazura
    Jul 30, 2017 at 6:41